Danica Patrick

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