Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Patrick won't confirm reported extension
HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- If Danica Patrick knows specifically what her future after this season holds, she's not saying.
Patrick refused Wednesday to confirm widespread reports that she's agreed to a three-year extension of her IndyCar contract with Andretti Green Racing.
Asked specifically about the extension, Patrick simply shook her head, not saying a word.
Patrick is considered the biggest draw in the IRL, and her interest in moving to NASCAR has been speculated on numerous times in recent years. She has a close relationship with Tony Stewart, and he has said Patrick will eventually make the jump he did -- from IndyCar to stock cars.
"I'm definitely looking at doing some NASCAR stuff," Patrick said, reaffirming what she's said often in recent months. "And when we figure out what that is, we'll announce it. But we haven't figured it out yet."
IRL officials have not commented about Patrick's future.
Patrick was at Homestead-Miami Speedway with several other drivers Wednesday to test for the IndyCar finale Oct. 10. Earlier this season, Patrick insisted she wouldn't announce anything about her future until after this IRL season concludes.
There's all sorts of possible scenarios: Patrick could solely run the full IRL schedule in 2010, abandon IRL entirely for NASCAR, or possibly put together some sort of schedule combining IRL events with the Nationwide Series or NASCAR's Truck Series.
If she makes the jump to stock cars, Stewart said earlier this month that he doesn't expect to see Stewart in Sprint Cup races immediately.
"You've got to learn," Stewart said three weeks ago. "You've got to get used to the heavier race car, less downforce, smaller tires. There's a lot of learning, a lot of race tracks you've got to get used to. It's sensory overload."
Patrick became the only woman to ever win a major open-wheel race last season in Japan. She's fifth in this year's IndyCar standings heading into the finale.
If she maintains that spot next weekend -- depending on other results, she could finished as high as fourth -- it'll be her best overall finish in the IRL standings. Patrick has improved every year in IRL, going from 12th overall in 2005 to ninth in 2006, seventh in 2007 and sixth in 2008.
"There have been good sort-of stretches to this season," Patrick said. "Coming into this year, I had a whole new engineering staff, really, on my car. I've enjoyed that change. We get along really well and I think that's been a positive thing for me. I've definitely approached this year with a more positive attitude, trying to work harder on every little thing I can think of."