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Danica Patrick to Make Sprint Cup Debut in 2012 Daytona 500

Danica Patrick (left) and Tony Stewart unveiled the no. 10 Go Daddy Sprint Cup Series Chevrolet at Texas Motor Speedway. Photo by LAT PhotographicThe wait is over. Go Daddy Girl Danica Patrick's limited NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) is known, as is the car number that will adorn her GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Impala.

In a news conference at Texas Motor Speedway over the weekend, SHR co-owner Tony Stewart announced Patrick's slate of Sprint Cup races in 2012 and revealed her new car number and paint scheme.

Patrick, a seven-year veteran of the IZOD IndyCar Series where she became the first woman in series history to win a race, is making the full transition to stock cars in 2012, competing in the entire NASCAR Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and a 10-race Sprint Cup schedule for SHR.

Patrick's Sprint Cup debut will come in the 54th annual Daytona 500 on Feb. 26 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. Her remaining Sprint Cup races are as follows:

• May 12: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway
• Aug. 25: Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway
• Sept. 2: Atlanta Motor Speedway
• Sept. 16: Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
• Sept. 30: Dover (Del.) International Speedway
• Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth
• Nov. 11: Phoenix International Raceway

Two Sprint Cup races are to be determined, with the plan being to assess Patrick's development in the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series as the season progresses and then choose the remaining venues based on need and competitive reasoning.

"Our goal with Danica's schedule is to try and maximize her 10 races with us so that she's as prepared as she can possibly be for a full-time Sprint Cup schedule in 2013," said Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Gene Haas, founder of Haas Automation - the largest machine tool manufacturer in the western world. "In the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, she'll handle short tracks, intermediate 1.5-mile ovals, and some unique tracks like Darlington and Phoenix. The point is to expose her to as many challenges as possible so that she'll know what to expect in 2013.

"Between our schedule and her full Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports, Danica will gain a lot of experience quickly. At the same time, we'll monitor her progress, and if we feel there's a particular venue or style of track where more seat time would be beneficial, we have two races where we can call an audible and enter her in those events."

"There were a lot of reasons why Stewart-Haas Racing made sense for me, but probably the biggest reason was Tony Stewart," Patrick added. "He's already done what I'm trying to do - make the transition from open-wheel cars to stock cars. If there's anyone who knows what I need to do and what I need to look out for, it's him."

Stewart is a four-time USAC champion and the 1997 IZOD IndyCar Series champion. He is also a two-time Sprint Cup champion with 42 career victories, the most recent of which came last Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

"Long before I even came to NASCAR, I talked to Tony and used him as a sounding board, whether it was in regard to what I was doing in Indy cars or what I was thinking about doing in NASCAR," Patrick said. "He was always honest with me and really helped prepare me for what was ahead. I know he's going to be very involved in my Sprint Cup career, and with the conversations we've had with each other, we feel this schedule and this plan is the best way to get me acclimated to Sprint Cup racing as quickly as possible."

In addition to the schedule, Stewart and Patrick also took the wraps off the GoDaddy.com Chevrolet Impala Patrick will race for SHR in Sprint Cup. The bright green machine will feature the No. 10, which Patrick used throughout her early racing career in karting before moving to Europe where she competed in Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall - stepping-stone divisions to Formula 1.

"Obviously, a lot of people associate the No. 7 with me because it's what I ran in IndyCar and it's what I run in Nationwide. But before the No. 7, there was the No. 10," said Patrick, who after leaving Europe continued to work her way up the racing ladder by competing in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and Toyota Atlantic before joining the IZOD IndyCar Series in 2005. "When we were talking about what number we could run in Sprint Cup, I thought it was pretty cool how Tony chose his and how Ryan (Newman) picked his. There was a connection between their numbers and their racing careers. The No. 10 is what I started with, and to have that number back with me as I start my Sprint Cup career shows how everything has come full circle. There's definitely going to be a lot of pride when I step into my No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy at Daytona."

The number selection is in line with the numbers previously selected by Patrick's SHR teammates Stewart and Newman, as both drivers have personal connections to their respective numbers. Stewart raced the No. 14 in go karts, and it's also synonymous with his hero, racing legend A.J. Foyt. Newman used the No. 39 at the start of his career in Quarter Midgets.

Go Daddy, the world's largest provider of web hosting, domain name registrations and net-new SSL Certificates, is known for its risque commercials featuring racing's most popular female driver.

"Danica loves to drive stock cars and that passion comes through when you watch her on the track," said Go Daddy CEO and Founder Bob Parsons. "Adding Danica and the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy to the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule brings a whole new level of excitement to the series. Our Go Daddy Girl is doing something you have to admire - competing in a male-dominated sport, serving as a role model for young women, and having fun with all of it to boot."

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