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The Indy-Charlotte double? Guess who's thinking about it.....

   Danica Patrick: after a week off, now three NASCAR races in a row: Texas, Phoenix and Homestead-Miami (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern


   FORT WORTH, Texas

   Okay, wanna jump-start NASCAR: here's Danica Patrick saying she's open to trying the Indy-Charlotte double "if someone has a jet for me."
   Bruton Smith, who owns the Charlotte and Texas tracks, might see that as a big opening.

   Certainly Indianapolis would like a bump in PR. NASCAR too.
   Yes, Patrick has been slow to get up to speed in NASCAR. Still.....
   "I understand that I've got a lot to learn...and I'm open to any opinion at all, from anyone, I will take it and try to use it," she said Friday while practicing for Saturday's Nationwide 300. She'll be running here, next week at Phoenix, her hometown, and the following week at Homestead-Miami.
   And she insists she's refused to let the naysayers get her down this season.
   "I have no ego. That's just my attitude, " she said. "I understand it's a learning process.
   "And everyone on the media side has been really patient and positive with me, and that keeps everyone optimistic and positive....instead of coming down on me hard, and my getting down and feeling beat up."
   Well, not everyone in the media. Some question her work ethic....like shouldn't she be testing a NASCAR stocker every spare moment, if she's really serious about the sport. This showing up on race weekend and putzing around for a couple days makes her seem more like a tourist than dedicated racer.
   Still, the last few runs Patrick finally appears to be getting the hang of this NASCAR thing.

   Maybe, if Patrick wants to hang around NASCAR a little more, now that she finally seems to be 'getting it,' and getting more comfortable, might consider using her full name – Danica Sue.
   Sounds a little more Southern, doesn't it?
   And maybe she ought to start throwing the word Chevy around in conversation a bit. After all, they are paying a lot of the freight....and General Motors executives have taken note her pointed disinclination to talk about the Bowtie for some reason.

   The Indy-Charlotte double?
  "I think it's possible for sure to do both...if that's the direction I end up going someday....I'm definitely open to that," she says.
   "I wouldn't want to cheat the Indy 500 in any way, and not be prepared to win, because that would be the only reason to do it.
   "It would have to beat the right situation, because I have a lot of respect for that race, having come close to winning it a few times."
    Running the Indianapolis 500 and Charlotte's Coke 600 the same day has only been by a few – Robby Gordon, Tony Stewart and John Andretti.
   Andretti did it first in 1994. Gordon and Stewart, also Cup tour winners, have come the closest to winning the Indianapolis 500. Stewart's 2001 double was the best double, of the seven that NASCAR men have attempted -- with a sixth at Indy and a third at Charlotte. But when ABC moved the Indy starting time five years ago, trying to boost ratings, it became logistically impossible for a driver to run both that Sunday.
   Now however Indy may move it's 1 p.m. ET start back, to make a double possible.

   Patrick, here at Texas Motor Speedway for Saturday's Nationwide 300 (1 p.m. ET, noon local), is back at the track where she, in June, says she ran her best ever Indy-car race, finishing second.
   The diminutive racer (5-2, 100 pounds) also put on a heck of race in the Indy Racing League's finale at Homestead last month. She ran sixth in this year's 500, and third in last year's 500.
    But down here in stock car country, well, Patrick's first year in NASCAR has been fitful.
   A great start in the Daytona ARCA race, then some bad days, like that horrendous afternoon at California's Auto Club Speedway. With a 35th at Daytona, 31th at California, 36th at Las Vegas.....she went back to her day job in the Indy-car world for that part of the racing season, making only a few forays back into stock racing, finishing 30th at Loudon, N.H., and 24th at Chicago.
     But lately she's been running better, understanding more...and of course doing perfectly fine in all the PR whirl that seems to accompany her wherever she goes.
     Clicking all of a sudden here in NASCAR? "Special food. I found the special food," she joked.
    "Part of it is repetition; being in the car. And (crew chief) Tony (Eury) Jr. and I learning each other. And me getting more comfortable...instead of just feeling out of control, feeling overwhelmed. Everything came at me so fast for a while. From out to get out of the pits, and how to restarts, to race running and finding spots on the track.
   "We're making progress. The 1-1/2-miles are our strong suit now, in this car and in Indy-cars. I think the banking helps.
  "And here, when I woke up this morning, I just felt more comfortable, because Texas has such a unique look...and comfortable feel."
   The speed here: running 190 mph in a NASCAR stocker versus 220 mph in an Indy-car?
   "These cars are so big, so high up in the air, so much mass, that even though you're going slower, it seems you're going faster," she says. "There's just more going on. The car is moving around. In an Indy-car the faster you go, the more downforce you have."

   But is she spending enough time testing in stock cars?
   Why not some time at Rockingham, for example?
   More pressing for Patrick might be fellow driver James Buescher, after their run-in at California last month. Buescher, who is from nearby Plano, "is on eternal probation with me," Patrick says. "If something happens, I know what to do. But if he plays fair, like he's done the last couple of weeks, no problem."
   And she's coming in here rested, after a rare – in NASCAR – weekend off. "We've going pretty hard for a while, so it was nice to have some time off, and now we're ready for these last three.
   "It's definitely felt like a longer year for me....with all the stuff going on after when the season normally ends for me.
   "It's just a reminder of how long the (NASCAR) year is. But that's just the new schedule, and we'll get used to it."
   Yep. Welcome to NASCAR....where the season never really ends.


    Danica Patrick: Green is her color (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)



Say it ain't so, Mike!! Can

Say it ain't so, Mike!! Can she please first get a Top 5 in a Nationwide race before even being offered a Cup ride, let alone someone talking of attempting this crazy feat? Stay in IndyCar Danica, please, something you're at least average at.

Hey Danica "The Brand"

Hey Danica "The Brand" Patrick...in which Cup ride will you be doing the double? If you're planning this in the next couple years, you do know that it's not really a "double" if you run the Nationwide race and the Indy 500, right? Because even though I'm sure the media would eat that up, Smoke, Robby & John all did two races in one day. (Yeah, I know the '97 Indy 500 for RG was postponed, but still.)

And as for "Permanent probation", I'm sure James Buescher is shaking in his boots. Congrats to him for being the first NASCAR driver to get in her head.

Make It A Twosome

Maybe she and Junior could try the double together. Results don't matter with those two anyway and just think of all the press that would generate. And the souvenir implications are endless!!

Indy then NASCAR

She's definitely talking about an Indy/Cup double. The Nationwide race is the day before Indy and there is zero chance that she would run that and sap her energy before the 500. Indy is the big one for her, way more important than any NASCAR race.

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