It's official, ladies and gents: IndyCar starlet Danica Patrick is moving up to the big leagues in NASCAR. The official announcement came in over the weekend that Patrick will be making her Spring Cup debut at no less lofty a race than the Daytona 500 come February 26, where she'll be driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.

The move to America's premier closed-wheel series comes after several lower-level stock car races in the ARCA and Nationwide series, efforts that saw Danica leading five times at the Subway Jalapeno 250 back in July.

In starting the Daytona 500, Danica will be only the third woman to contest the iconic race, joining the likes of Janet Guthrie (who finished 12th in 1977 and 11th in 1980) and Shawna Robinson (24th in 2002). You'll find more details in the press release after the jump.
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Patrick's limited Sprint Cup Series schedule will kick off with 'The Great American Race'
DANICA PATRICK DAYTONA 500 Danica Patrick will make her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut at the 54th Daytona 500 on February 26, 2012 for Stewart-Haas Racing.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., Nov. 4, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Danica Patrick will make her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the prestigious season-opening 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26.

Patrick, who will compete full time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports in 2012, announced on Friday afternoon that her limited Sprint Cup Series schedule with Stewart-Haas Racing will kick off with "The Great American Race."

"Each year, the Daytona 500 produces unforgettable moments that forever change the lives of fans and drivers," Daytona International Speedway President Joie Chitwood III said. "As Danica embarks on her first start in 'The Great American Race,' she may want to talk with 2011 champion Trevor Bayne, who might be able to share some pointers for first timers. We wish her well and are excited about her participation in the NASCAR's biggest and most prestigious event – the Daytona 500."

Patrick will become just the third woman to compete in the Daytona 500 when she takes the green flag in February. Janet Guthrie made two Daytona 500 starts in 1977 and 1980, finishing 12th and 11th respectively. Shawna Robinson finished 24th in her lone Daytona 500 start in 2002.

Patrick made her stock car and NASCAR debuts on the storied 31-degree high banks at Daytona International Speedway during Speedweeks 2010. She finished sixth in the Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 ARCA race and 35th in her first Nationwide Series race.

Most recently at the "World Center of Racing," Patrick led five times for 13 laps in the Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola Nationwide Series race in July before getting caught up in an incident in the tri-oval coming to the checkered flag and finishing 10th.

Tickets for the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Sunday, Feb. 26 as well as other Speedweeks 2012 events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP

New for the 2012 Daytona 500 is special youth pricing. Children 12 and under will receive 50 percent off all Superstretch grandstand seats for the Daytona 500 with the purchase of an adult ticket. The special offer expires Feb. 1.

Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway's social media channels on Twitter (www.twitter.com/disupdates) and Facebook (www.facebook.com/DaytonaInternationalSpeedway).

Danica Patrick at Daytona International Speedway
Lucas Oil Slick Mist 200 (ARCA)
2010 Started 12th and finished sixth

Daytona 300 (NASCAR Nationwide Series, February)
2010 Started 15th and finished 35th
2011 Started fourth and finished 14th

Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered By Coca-Cola (NASCAR Nationwide Series, July)
2011 Started seventh and finished 10th

Rolex 24 At Daytona
2006 Started 16th and finished 50th. Co-drove with Rusty Wallace, Allan McNish and Jan Lammers
2009 Started 18th and finished eighth. Co-drove with Andy Wallace, Rob Finlay and Casey Mears


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  • 23 Comments
      MONTEGOD7SS
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am still holding out hope for that Christmas morning house fire so we don't have to hear about her any longer. She is a horrible driver, who has only gotten as far as she has by her marginal good looks. On a scale to 10, she is a 6 or 7 at best. She can't keep an open wheel car out of the wall with twice as much grip as a NASCAR, so I doubt this will end well for the mechanics who have to patch her cars up.
        scycott
        • 3 Years Ago
        @MONTEGOD7SS
        Have you ever seen an Indy race in which she participated? Your statement she can't keep an open wheel car out of the wall is nothing more than uninformed prejudicial crap. She finished her IZOD Indy career completeing more than 50 consecutive races without a DNF and 65 out of her last 66. The one she didn't finish was at the Indy 500 when Ryan Briscoe took her out in the pits. Mark Martin said it best, quote, "She's not hard on the equipment." This is fact. Compared to someone like E.J. Visio who's only sponser backed him with 3 million in 2010, only to watch him finish just 2 of 17 races while running up a bill in excess of 3 million in spare parts. Danica on the other hand, from 2009 through 2011 ran up less than $300,000 in spare parts. I follow her every race. It's depressing to a degree, wanting her to win, but calling her a horrible driver? She's a good driver, not great. Personally I think her tempered cautious approach keeps her from winning. As for looks, she's a 4 but it doesn't really matter. She has sponsership money other drivers are envious of. She has that backing because she sells product. She's news. She's popular. All the whinning in the world is not going to change that. If you don't like her, fine, don't read articles about her. The more controversial she is the more attention she garners and her popularity remains. People pay to see her, win or lose, but they are paying. All the complaining from Danica bashers is only serving to make her richer, and because of that she's not going anywhere.
      rstang42
      • 3 Years Ago
      Not a big fan of her. And also the Daytona 500 pace car will be a Toyota Camry. Yeah, a Japanese pace car . Ridiculous.
      SloopJohnB
      • 3 Years Ago
      It's always been a matter of getting a good ride for Danica. Tony Stewart is a perennial contender and past winner/champion and is doing well for this season...Ryan not so much, but still in the Race. Is she going to campaign a third car (aka third wheel to Stewart and Newman) with all the behind-the-winner stuff that entails, or is someone going to to move out? I can't see Tony Stewart stopping and Ryan is pretty young to stop...Stewart-Haas expanding?
        Alex
        • 3 Years Ago
        @SloopJohnB
        From the sounds of it, Stewart-Haas is adding a 3rd team, with her driving a few races a year and someone else (likely Mark Martin) driving the rest of the races like Mark did at DEI a few years ago.
          Pj Taintz
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Alex
          mark went to waltrip, as of right now shes on a third team, no word if that car will run all season or just for her races.
      LMI500
      • 3 Years Ago
      Go away already!! Your 15 minutes of fame are over, and you were never attractive even with the 100lbs of makeup and airbrushing they did on you. Let someone with REAL TALENT drive one of these cars instead of you still attempting experiments at fame and then crying when someone bumps you.
      Stinkyboy
      • 3 Years Ago
      Excellent! I hope she wins!
      SurfWRaX
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wish her and her stupid Go Daddy commercials would shrivel up under a rock.
      Xavier Sigala
      • 3 Years Ago
      Danica will be fine, she is used to the much higher speeds in Indycar. NASCAR is slower, but the cars are heavy and bloated so they can be difficult. I think she will eventually win a NASCAR road course, she is a better technical driver than most NASCAR drivers.
        Shane Gardner
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Xavier Sigala
        She was by far better on ovals then road courses in IndyCar, she complained about how many road courses to ovals where on the calendar.
          Xavier Sigala
          • 3 Years Ago
          @Shane Gardner
          Shane, I agree she is not the best road course driver. But compared to the typical NASCAR driver, she looks like Michael Schumacher.
        XT6Wagon
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Xavier Sigala
        She is used to driving an abomination of a racecar. Endless grip from endless downforce. You know there is too much downforce when they can effortlessly move to the inside at WOT in the middle of the corner while at top speed. IRL didn't really require skill in the cockpit thanks to this fact. Well that and it took the IRL forever to pickup any roadcourses. Maybe the talentpool will get cleaned out now that they have turned back into the Indy series of old with lots of roadcourses to balance out the snoozefest ovals. Nascar on the other hand requires a much different skill set than openwheel racing. Even the ones that don't provide endless grip still favor a different skill set. Nascar you have to get 99.9% of your tires grip to go fast. There isn't much downforce so managing the mechanical grip is key. Openwheel is far less about hitting that exact edge in cornering grip. With the downforce getting your braking/accelerating timing right, is far more to the point than peak cornering speed. Also given that many of these cars don't tolerate sideslip at highspeeds you definitely need to leave more in reserve at peak cornering than a NASCAR cupcar where it tolerates sideslip and many can save the car from the wall even if the back end does come loose.
      Autoblogist
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hopefully she doesn't become an overrated attentionwhore in series.
      iKingston
      • 3 Years Ago
      "The Big Leagues" ??? What do you consider Indycar, AutoBlog? You might want to consider re-wording that sentence! I have been an Indycar fan for years and I am telling you that, that sentence pisses me off. I guess going 200+ mph at every track Indycar visits isn't a big deal...? Or what about the Indianapolis 500; is that not a big deal either?
        Emile
        • 3 Years Ago
        @iKingston
        I'm thinking when the said big leagues they were talking Sprint Cup being bigger than Nationwide
      Hal Jordan
      • 3 Years Ago
      You lost me at "moving up to the big leagues". Maybe "moving up to the big money". Indycar > NASCAR
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