Danica being courted by Earnhardt Jr. UPDATE #3 Dale Earnhardt Jr. says a deal to put Danica Patrick in his Nationwide Series car isn't imminent, and even if it were, JR Motorsports wouldn't necessarily have the funding for the IndyCar Series' most popular driver. Multiple media outlets have reported in recent weeks that Patrick was on the verge of signing with JRM for a part-time Nationwide schedule next season while continuing to run the Indy Racing League. Patrick and JRM share a sponsor in GoDaddy.com, but Earnhardt says it doesn't make the deal a cinch. "We've had a relationship with GoDaddy, so that makes us look like a nice fit, but they're moving (next year), so we don't really have it anymore," Earnhardt said after Sprint Cup practice Friday at Phoenix International Raceway. "We're having to search around." JRM's #88 Chevy currently driven by Brad Keselowski is sponsored by GoDaddy.com, but the company will move to Cup next year to back the #5 Chevy of Mark Martin at Hendrick Motorsports, which has an alliance with JRM. Earnhardt says JRM has only "three-quarters to half a season" of sponsors for the #88 in 2010. Earnhardt says the lack of funding is what's driving JRM's interest in Patrick, who also has been pursued by Roush Fenway Racing and Michael Waltrip Racing. Patrick also has met with Joe Gibbs Racing and Richard Childress Racing, and Earnhardt says he's talked to her along with Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick. Patrick lives in the Phoenix area, but offseason sponsor commitments are expected to keep her from attending Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500. "She's very interested in trying NASCAR, and a lot of people weren't sure whether she was serious or not, but she is serious," Earnhardt said. "There's a lot to learn there for her. She's got to get in the cars. She's got a lot of (stuff) to do before she ever takes the green flag for anything. But she's talked to a lot of people. I've spoken with her a couple of times just about the lifestyle and the difference in the series vs. what she does now." Besides GoDaddy, Patrick has sponsorship ties to Motorola's Boost Mobile brand and Tissot. Earnhardt believes she might be able to bring those companies to NASCAR, though without some TV advertising campaigns that could be considered risqué. USA Today
10/21/09 This rumor is upgraded to 'strong' today. ESPN.com has confirmed that IndyCar Series driver Danica Patrick is talking with JR Motorsports and Michael Waltrip Racing about running a limited schedule of about eight Nationwide Series races -- plus a few Truck and maybe ARCA events -- in 2010. Kevin Harvick Inc. could be a player. But sources say those aren't the only options as Patrick begins preparing for a potential NASCAR career after her IndyCar career is over. More at ESPN Insiders
10/04/09 The two most popular drivers in auto racing -- Danica Patrick and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -- may soon be involved in a limited NASCAR arrangement, NASCAR team owner Rick Hendrick confirmed to SI.com.
The other side of the Patrick puzzle may soon fall into place as Hendrick said Sunday afternoon that Patrick's agent at IMG has met with the team about a limited schedule of ARCA and NASCAR Nationwide Series races to go along with the IndyCar Series contract she signed to remain at Andretti Green Racing.
According to Hendrick, the plan would be to put Patrick in the JR Motorsports team that is owned by Hendrick driver Earnhardt, Jr. with sponsorship from GoDaddy.com.
"We have no deal but she has spoke with Kelley Earnhardt [Dale Jr's sister who handles that teams business affairs] about a limited number of NASCAR races in that car," Hendrick told SI.com. "I have had some conversation and Kelley Earnhardt has had some conversation with that but Kelly is heading that up.
"GoDaddy.com would be involved because of Danica's involvement with Danica and with JR Motorsports. Kelley talked to her in the last week. We are looking at how it matches up with her IndyCar schedule. We are interested and think it would be neat but it has to work out for both sides."
Patrick signed a three-year IndyCar Series contract with team owner Michael Andretti two weeks ago but has remained quiet on that subject because of sponsor demands who want to have a major press conference to announce the signing. According to IndyCar Series sources, one of Patrick's sponsor contracts in IndyCar is about to expire so that announcement will not be made until the sponsor is ready to make the announcement.
"She has signed the contract, they just want to make sure the sponsor is ready to make the announcement," said an IndyCar Series official Saturday afternoon.
Hendrick stressed that any deal with Patrick has to make sense.
"I would just like to do whatever we can do to do it right," Hendrick said. "We wouldn't want to do it unless we can do it in a first-class way because that is what she deserves and what she wants. We are looking at her options and her IndyCar schedule so stay tuned.
"I think it's smart for her to stay in IndyCar fulltime and ease into NASCAR because as successful as she is she can taste both series without making a full-time commitment to NASCAR."
Hendrick welcomes the additional exposure and attention that Patrick would bring to his operation.
"I don't mind that," Hendrick said. "She's a racer and she is involved with GoDaddy, one of our big sponsors. I wish there were more testing time but that will be Kelly Earnhardt's call. We haven't really gotten serious yet." SI.com09/13/09 According to this MRN podcast, one rumor going around is that Dale Earnhardt Jr. who also has sponsorship from GoDaddy.com is courting Danica Patrick. His Nationwide team, JR Motorsports, is looking for sponsorship, something Danica definitely can bring to the team. Danica also is a big boost to NASCAR's diversity program.