ESPN is reporting that IndyCar driver Danica Patrick will officially announce next week that she is moving to NASCAR full time in 2012. She is expected to reveal plans to drive a full schedule in the Nationwide Series, as well as eight to nine races at NASCAR's top level, the Sprint Cup Series.
Motorsports reporter Marty Smith, who broke the story for ESPN, says multiple sources with knowledge of Patrick's contract negotiations told ESPN that her contracts are still being finalized. Patrick is expected to make the official announcement in Phoenix, where her main sponsor, GoDaddy.com, is headquartered. The report also says that Patrick is working on a multi-year agreement to switch to Sprint Cup full time in 2013
Patrick, 29, has made 111 starts in open-wheel racing in her seven-year career driving in the IndyCar Series. She has one win to her credit, in Japan in 2008, the first in IndyCar by a female driver. In her seven seasons of high-level, open-wheel racing, Patrick qualified on the pole three times and has finished in the top five 20 times, including a surprising fourth-place finish in her first Indianapolis 500 in 2005.
The last two seasons, Patrick has raced in both the IndyCar Series, for Andretti Autosport, and in the Nationwide Series, driving for JR Motorsports, a team owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. She will continue driving the No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in the 2012 Nationwide schedule.
She is expected to enter select Sprint Cup races in the 2012 season. When she does, Patrick will drive a car owned by Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by Tony Stewart. She is expected to sign a multi-year deal with Stewart-Haas for a full-time ride in the Sprint Cup Series, beginning in 2013.
It is not certain at this time, Smith reports, how the anticipated move to NASCAR will impact her previously announced desire to continue to compete in the Indianapolis 500.
ESPN.com's Terry Blount writes, Patrick move "full time to NASCAR is a win-win for Patrick and the sport."