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Danica could move to NASCAR full-time Either she's not easily detoured or she's a glutton for punishment. Danica Patrick has returned for another shot at Daytona and second season of running part-time in NASCAR's Nationwide Series.
America's best female racer and IndyCar racing's biggest celebrity crashed and finished 35th in her Nationwide Series debut a year ago. She posted an average start of 27th and average finish of 28th in 13 starts for JR Motorsports, but that was then and this is 2011.
Patrick won't race until next week, but she was at Daytona this week for NASCAR media day. She attracted four times as many reporters as defending Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray, who was doing his interview session at the same time.
Pointing to a respectable effort in the finale at Homestead, Patrick said she's gaining in NASCAR. She danced around questions about the career crossroads she'll soon be coming upon.
Patrick, soon to be 29, is entering the last year of her contract with Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series and JR Motorsports in NASCAR. She indicated she could exercise an option year with Andretti.
"I think any time that opportunities open up, it's time to be open-minded," Patrick said. "That's my position at this point. It's only February, so we'll have to see how the season evolves. And when it's time to starting figuring it out, me and my (personal) team will."
While Patrick could remain in the IRL, where she has a win in Japan and two top-five finishes in the Indy 500, she could also decide the time is right to make a full assault on NASCAR.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., whose family co-owns JR Motorsports with Rick Hendrick, said he didn't want to get "hypothetical" about giving Patrick a full-time ride but said Patrick is "fun to be around" and "brings a new energy to our company."
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