Stewart-Haas Racing have made a deal with Tommy Baldwin Racing which sees Danica Patrick take over Dave Blaney's guaranteed spot in the season opening Daytona 500.
NASCAR rules dictate that the top 35 in the previous season's owner's points get a guaranteed place on the grid for the first 5 races of the new season. Therefore, the top 35 spot won by Blaney's #36 team last year will transfer to Danica's #10 team, ending speculation that an anticlimactic failure to qualify for her heavily publicised first race in Cup was on the cards.
The deal marks a sort of dual-ownership of the #10, with SHR competition director Greg Zipadelli running the car when Danica is in the hot seat, and TBR-contracted David Reutimann driving the 26 races Danica is scheduled to miss.
“Partnering with Tommy and his team provides Danica with the foundation she needs to succeed,” Zipadelli said. “With a guaranteed starting spot, we can go into each weekend and simply learn.
“It's all about getting her comfortable in the car, and with the variety of tracks she's running, seat time will be incredibly valuable. A guaranteed spot in the race ensures that she'll have the opportunity to make as many laps as possible.”
Baldwin is expected to run a second team for Blaney full time, although the 49 year old veteran will have to race his way into the 500 by being in one of the four transfer spots in the Gatorade Duels.