Danica Patrick will be performing double duty this weekend as she will compete in both Saturday's Nationwide Series O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge and Sunday's Sprint Cup Series AAA Texas 500. Patrick, a fulltime Nationwide Series competitor, will be making her ninth Sprint Cup start for Stewart-Haas Racing as part of her limited schedule in the top-tier series before moving there fulltime in 2013. It will be her first Sprint Cup start at Texas Motor Speedway, but she has plenty of experience at the venue with 11 combined starts between the Nationwide Series (3) and IZOD IndyCar Series (8).
She has experienced her share of success at TMS, earning five top-10 finishes in eight career starts in the IZOD IndyCar Series, including a runner-up finish in the 2010 Firestone 550k. Patrick demonstrated in April that she also can wheel a stock car as well, earning her first top-10 finish of the Nationwide Series season during the O'Reilly Auto Parts 300.
"I've always enjoyed coming to Texas," Patrick said. "Not only is there great crowds and a great atmosphere, I like the track. I think I tend to perform well on the really banked tracks. I've enjoyed coming here since the first time I was in an Indy car and the first time I was in a stock car. I'm glad to come back. Hopefully it will be a good weekend for us."
Team owner and defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart selected a 10-race schedule that would challenge his new driver. Races at Daytona, Darlington, Bristol and Texas, among others offered the challenges Stewart felt Patrick needed to face before making the move next year.
Patrick has struggled during her eight starts this season, finishing a season-best 25th at Chicagoland Speedway. While the results may not be there, Stewart is pleased with the progress his protégé has made this year considering she has completed more than 90 percent of the laps during those races.
"There wasn't anything to learn by going to easy tracks this year on a partial schedule," Stewart said. "The schedule she is going to have next year she is going to have to go to these hard tracks. Being able to just have the experience of going the year before even if it's a rough experience you at least learn and get a base of that track anytime you do something for the first time it's tough. The second time is always easier. Though she may not see the benefit of it right now she will next year."