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Report: Patrick reaches NASCAR deal

Deal teams open-wheel racing's most popular driver with NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Monday, Dec. 07, 2009

Part - but not all - of the plans IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick has to enter NASCAR will finally be revealed on Tuesday.

Patrick, whose flirtation with NASCAR has been the subject of endless speculation for months, has signed a contract with JR Motorsports to run a limited schedule in the Nationwide Series, beginning next season, the Observer and ThatsRacin.com have learned.

However, exactly what that schedule includes remains unclear. Sources said no specific number of races - or even her first Nationwide race - will be announced on Tuesday.

What is clear is open-wheel racing's most popular driver will join forces with NASCAR's most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr., one of four owners of JR Motorsports.

She will however take her first official venture in a stock car next week, when she participates in the Automobile Racing Club of America test session Dec. 18-20 at Daytona International Speedway.

Patrick is planning to enter the Feb. 6 ARCA season opener in a JR Motorsports-prepared Chevrolet. Her performance in that race will in part determine what Nationwide races she does in 2010, sources said.

Earnhardt Jr. said last Thursday that his sister, team executive vice president Kelley Earnhardt, was in negotiations to put Patrick in a car for a partial Nationwide schedule.

Patrick, 27, announced last week that she would compete in the full IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport for at least the next two seasons with a mutual option for a third.

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