Racing: Danica not disturbed by talk of the future
By Stephen Hawkins
FORT WORTH, Texas ó Being in a contract year, Danica Patrick knew there would be plenty of speculation about her possible future in NASCAR.
Patrick, fourth in the IndyCar Series standings only 22 points behind Scott Dixon, insisted Thursday that all the talk about the future won’t be a distraction for her over the next 12 races in a season that won’t end for four more months.
“It’s not as though I didn’t know it was coming this year, and it’s been a pretty good year so far,” said Patrick, whose contract with Andretti-Green Racing is up at the end of this season. “I have created a really good group around me. … So I don’t have to worry about it.”
Including a third-place finish at the Indianapolis 500, Patrick has a series-high four top-five finishes through the first five races.
Under the terms of her deal with Andretti-Green, she can now field offers from other teams. But she said her focus is on trying to win races and a season championship.
“I’m not the one making calls, I’m not the one receiving calls. It has nothing to do with me,” Patrick said. “I’m going to hear about it, but it’s really not my concern.”
Responding to questions at Texas Motor Speedway, where the Bombardier Learjet 550k is Saturday night, Patrick did say if she makes a move to NASCAR that her preference would be to drive in the top-level Sprint Cup Series.
“As a driver that drives in the top level of open wheel racing here in the United States, or in North American, you want to jump from one top to another top,” she said. “If that was the direction that ends up coming up and that we choose, I would prefer to do that, but I’m not so naive that I won’t be open to other opportunities and other ideas.”
Would she be ready for that top series?
“I don’t think there’s really a way to ever know if you’re ready until you’ve tried it,” she said. “I will be exploring all type of options for next year and beyond. I don’t know which direction it’s going to go.”
Asked about the possibility of Formula One racing, she says she prefers to remain in the United States.
“I prefer being around my friends and family and having those comforts. I do enjoy being here,” Patrick said. “If a good opportunity comes up here, that’s what I would prefer to do. I definitely enjoy living here, I enjoy this kind of racing, and would be up for any challenge here.”