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Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Waltrip meets with Patrick on 2010

By David Newton

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Add Michael Waltrip Racing to the list of NASCAR suitors for IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick for 2010.

Team owner Michael Waltrip said on Tuesday he's met with Patrick and given her a tour of the team facility. He is willing to put her in a limited number of races in the Nationwide and Truck Series. "Whatever she wants," he said.

"We've certainly talked to her and are interested in what she's going to do," Waltrip said. "We have sort of done that without a whole lot of people knowing. She knows we're interested when she knows what she's going to do."

She knows we're interested when she knows what she's going to do.

-- Michael Waltrip, on Danica Patrick

Waltrip doesn't believe the rivalry between Japanese car manufacturers will be a stumbling block. Patrick drives a Honda in the IndyCar Series; Waltrip's team fields Toyotas.

"There's not a Honda over here [in NASCAR], so she's going to drive something besides that," he said.

Waltrip's chief competition appears to be JR Motorsports, which has discussed fielding Patrick in a limited number of Nationwide and ARCA races next season.

JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Rick Hendrick, may have one advantage in that it already has a relationship with

"There is a natural fit at JRM with Dale Jr. and Danica both serving as spokespersons for," JRM president Kelley Earnhardt Elledge said on Monday. "As a female managing one of the top Nationwide Series teams in the sport, I would be excited to have Danica within the JR Motorsports fold if she decides to enter the world of NASCAR."

Patrick would split time with Earnhardt and several other drivers in the No. 5 at JRM. Kelly Bires recently was signed to replace Brad Keselowski in the No. 88 that currently is sponsored by recently announced it would be the primary sponsor of Mark Martin in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Sprint Cup car next season.

Whatever direction Patrick takes, she will have to work it around her IndyCar schedule.

It was reported two weeks ago that Patrick signed a three-year extension to remain with Andretti Green Racing. Team officials said they were unable to comment at this time. Sources close to the situation said the official announcement will be made when the sponsor is ready.

But Patrick has made it clear she wants to pursue driving in NASCAR, so that if she decides to one day make the switch, she'll be ready.

"I don't know where we stand," Waltrip said. "I've enjoyed talking with her and peeking inside her world a little bit. We welcome the opportunity. I'm not into who the front-runner is. I just know we could offer her a real good program."

Tony Stewart has said Patrick will eventually make the jump from Indy cars to stock cars and that they have talked about making that transition. He said last month he does not expect Patrick to jump straight into the Sprint Cup Series.

"You've got to learn," Stewart said. "You've got to get used to the heavier race car, less downforce, smaller tires. There's a lot of learning, a lot of racetracks you've got to get used to. It's sensory overload."

David Newton covers NASCAR for Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.