Danica Patrick looks set to join JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next year, with negotiations said to be at an advanced stage.
A deal with the Hendrick Motorsprots backed team looks likely to be completed within the next week to 10 days, according to sources close to the negotiations.
The #5 car would be renamed as the #7 car, and Patrick would contest 12 or 13 races, with the rest likely to be filled by Dale Earnhardt Jr and possibly Ryan Newman. A current sponsor of Patrick, GoDaddy.com, would be the primary sponsor, who coincidentally already sponsors the other JR Motorsports car, the #88 of Brad Keselowski.
Rumours of $1 Million per race have been refuted, and a regular $50000-100000 per race salary is the expected figure.
“She just wants to race and learn,” said Michael Waltrip, another owner/driver who has had talks with Patrick. “I know, it’s not about money. It’s about racing a car and learning.”
When Patrick signed a 3 year contract extenstion with her current IRL team Andretti Racing, it seemed her NASCAR dreams had been put on hold. But thanks to the fact there are only 17 races per season, it left plenty of free weekends to go stock car racing inbetween.
Another interesting fact is that GoDaddy is signed up as major sponsor to Mark Martin‘s #5 car in the Sprint Cup, and he will likely retire (again) in the not so distant future, potentially opening a full-time switch to the premier NASCAR series with one of the best teams in the business.
Drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya have advised against running two different series at once, but Danica seems determined to take the plunge into stock car racing. Whether this is a wise decision is yet to be seen…