- David Newton, ESPN Staff Writer
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Stewart Haas Racing is working on an alliance with Tommy Baldwin Racing that will guarantee Danica Patrick a starting spot in the Daytona 500 and keep her No. 10 car on the track for much of the Sprint Cup schedule, sources said on Monday.
Under the terms of the proposed deal, Patrick will be locked into the February 26 Sprint Cup opener with the owner's points accumulated last season by TBR driver Dave Blaney, who was 33rd in the standings. The top 35 in owner's points from last season are guaranteed a starting spot in the first five races of 2012.
Since Patrick is scheduled to compete in only 10 Cup races while participating full time in the Nationwide series, TBR driver David Reutimann would drive the No. 10 in as many of the remaining 26 Cup races as is financially feasible.
Any other races Reutimann runs will be for TBR.
Sources said TBR will receive technical and pit crew support as a part of the deal.
Patrick said during a recent test at Daytona International Speedway that, despite showing good speed during her first run in a Cup car, it wasn't worth taking a chance on making her first Cup race. She said during the recent media tour in Charlotte, N.C., that there's a "real chance'' she could win the Daytona 500 with a little luck.
But first she has to be in the field.
"There's not that many spots (open),'' Patrick said in mid-January. "You've got cars that they'll put everything into just running this race. I've heard they tend to be pretty quick.
"You don't want to take chances. It's not the right time to do that. Everyone wants to get into the race, and I'm sure (sponsor) GoDaddy would like to be sure of that happening. Eliminating as many questions is probably a safe route."
David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at email@example.com.