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Danica Patrick Daytona

February 18, 2012 by staff 

Danica Patrick Daytona, The buildup for Danica Patrick’s first Daytona 500 began in earnest at Thursday’s annual media day, where auto racing’s sweetheart was saddled with a full schedule of commitments.
Patrick was shuffled from interview to interview, answering questions and shooting promotions for her first full season in NASCAR. She couldn’t even find solitude in the bathroom: an autograph seeker followed Patrick inside and patiently waited for the driver’s signature.

Patrick will make her Sprint Cup Series debut in the Feb. 26 season-opening Daytona 500. It’s the first of 10 races this year at NASCAR’s top level driving for three-time champion Tony Stewart.

She’s also racing for the championship in the second-tier Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports.

Her defection from the IndyCar Series is complete, and Patrick will be the center of the spotlight for Speedweeks at Daytona. She’s fine with it, though, as seven years of running the Indianapolis 500 taught her how to handle intense attention.

“I think that if I had not experienced all the media crazy around this whole part of things it would have been somewhat overwhelming,” she said. “My whole (public relations) team knows how it works and how to organize everything so it’s done effectively and efficiently.

“But I feel good — let’s not forget I’ve been exposed to the Indy 500, which is one of the biggest races in the world, if not the biggest race in the world, and there’s lots of media around that, too, and lots of hype.”

NASCAR has been anxiously awaiting Patrick’s move to stock cars because, as one of the most recognized athletes in the world, she’ll bring attention to the series. “There’s so much interest with Danica coming over to NASCAR, I think it’s going to really broaden our fan base,” Lesa France Kennedy, the CEO of NASCAR sister company International Speedway Corp., said last month.

“When she shows up, it just has a different feel to it. She’s a real dynamic individual to start with and I think it’ll be interesting to see her compete on the track. There’s certainly a spotlight, without a doubt, but she seems to do well with that. She seems to do well under pressure.”

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