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Danica a natural to promote Hot Wheels
Danica Patrick is struggling to find speed in her NASCAR Nationwide Series car, but she tops the charts when it comes to pitching her sponsor's products.

Patrick was toward the rear of the field in Nationwide practice at Michigan International Speedway on Thursday -- in fact, way off the pace -- but did everything to make Hot Wheels, her sponsor for Saturday's Carfax 250 Nationwide race, jump for joy.

Patrick's JR Motorsports team requested that writers not ask her questions about her day in the No. 7 Chevy in the Irish Hills during a lunch-break news conference. But she seemed to enjoy talking about her Hot Wheels relationship, which she adds to her GoDaddy.com résumé.

"I definitely had some Hot Wheels cars as a kid, but I definitely had more Barbies," said Patrick, who is running a part-time Nationwide schedule this season as well as racing full-time in the IndyCar Series for Andretti Autosport. Patrick will make her first start in a stock car at Michigan this weekend, in the new Nationwide car. "It's very important to have sponsors who support you like this. If there's not a sponsor on the car, you can't go around (the track)."

Patrick was 23rd fastest (172.699 m.p.h.) of 34 Nationwide cars in the first practice Thursday morning and 26th fastest among 43 cars in the second practice (171.641). Roush Fenway Racing's Carl Edwards lapped quickest in the morning at 178.103 in his No. 60 Valvoline Ford. Kevin Harvick was fastest in the afternoon at 177.205 and second fastest at 177.932 in the morning in his No. 33 Jimmy John's Chevrolet.

Patrick is currently filming several new Hot Wheels commercials and is involved in a "Keys to Speed" instant win game, which offers a VIP trip for four to the 2011 Indianapolis 500 and a day with Danica at the track. Detroit Free Press

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