The Washington Post

Danica Patrick signs on with NASCAR’s Nationwide Series

It’s official. Danica Patrick is moving to NASCAR. (Jason Smith/GETTY IMAGES)

During a Thursday afternoon press conference shown live on, Patrick finally signed on with JR Motorsports — after trying to quell rumors for months — where she will continue to hone her craft on America’s most popular racing circuit.

The much-ballyhooed announcement, followed by the unveiling of Patrick’s bright green Chevrolet, are likely a harbinger of the marketing bonanza that will follow Patrick to the Nationwide Series. Her name and presence alone will no doubt provide a sizeable boost to the sport.

There was plenty of speculation that the move is directly related to money and marketing, an idea Patrick has consistently refuted as she did once again Thursday.

“If it was about money I would have gone a long time ago. I always just go with where my heart tells me to go, where my gut tells me to go, where I’m enjoying my life the most and where I think I can have the most success.

“I feel like in the last year I’ve really come around more on the track. I still have a lot to learn, that’s for sure, but I feel like I’m getting it a lot more.”

It won’t be hard to spot Danica on race day. (Paul Connors/AP)

Patrick’s Nationwide deal with JR Motorsports will also allow her to run eight to ten planned Sprint Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing meaning she will drive for both JR Motorsports part-owner Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Tony Stewart.

“I’m really lucky to drive for two talented drivers and have a lot of fun and learn from them. Dale’s been great and I’ve known tony for a long time. having that indy car background that he does, I think he can relate a lot.”

Patrick said she remains undecided on whether or not she will race in the Daytona 500 or the 2012 Indy 500, which Patrick has called, “the best race in the world.”

“With IndyCar I’ll miss some of the venues and I’ll miss some of the people for sure,” Patrick said. “I don’t know if the fans will continue to follow me, but I hope so... Hopefully they’ll continue to cheer for me in NASCAR.”

Matt Brooks is the high school sports editor for The Washington Post. He's an Arlington native and longtime District resident and was previously a high school sports reporter, editor for several blogs and Early Lead contributor with The Post.

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