Danica Patrick, Coke to partner

Updated: May 10, 2012, 1:57 PM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Danica Patrick will be introduced as the first female member of the Coca-Cola Racing Family during a Thursday news conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

The 30-year-old full-time Nationwide Series driver and part-time Sprint Cup driver joins current CCRF members Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart.

"She is going to invigorate what we're doing with the Coca-Cola Racing Family," said Sharon Byers, senior vice president of sports and entertainment for Coca-Cola.

Patrick will be directly branded with Coke Zero. Among her first promotional appearances wil be at the Coca-Cola 600 weekend at CMS to promote the adventure movie "Battleship'' with Brooklyn Decker, one of the movie's stars. Patrick also will compete in the 600 as the third of her 10 Cup races this season.

"To be with Coca-Cola is one of those things you only dream about as a driver," Patrick told ESPN.com. "A lot of legendary drivers have been a part of the Coke family, so I feel very fortunate."

Patrick will add Coca-Cola to her brand that already includes GoDaddy.com, Nationwide Insurance, Tissot, Chevrolet, Peak Antifreeze, William Rast clothing and Hot Wheels.

Forbes estimated her 2011 net worth at $12 million, ranking eighth among NASCAR drivers. She was the only NASCAR driver to make the Forbes Top 100 celebrities list (at No. 96) in 2011.

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter