Danica Patrick won't run at the Brickyard this coming season.
In an open-wheel race, that is.
According to the Associated Press, Patrick has announced that she won't be in the field for the famed Indianapolis 500 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in May, and not because she's lactose intolerant or anything.
Rather, as expected, Patrick will spend her time that months preparing for the Coca-Cola 600, NASCAR's longest race of the year.
Patrick made it clear last August that she would essentially be leaving the IndyCar Series in 2012 to focus on a long-term future in the more lucrative world of stock car racing. She began the transition in 2010 with a part-time schedule in the NASCAR Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports with GoDaddy.com as her chief sponsor.
This year, though, Patrick is slated to run a full schedule on NASCAR's second-tier circuit, along with 10 races in the Spring Cup Series for Stewart-Haas Racing. Chances are, if she succeeds in the NSCS, she'll stick around and bid farewell to open-wheel racing for the foreseeable future.
That's easier said than done, of course.
Patrick has never won a stock car event, though, to her credit, she does hves three career top-10 finishes under her belt and has only recently fully committed herself to seriously pursuing a full-time stint in NASCAR.
With the proper dedication, Patrick could very well end up taking the world of stock cars by storm.
In any case, Patrick's departure from the IndyCar series, temporary or otherwise, is yet another in a devastating string of setbacks for the fledgling sport of open-wheel racing. Though she wasn't the most successful IndyCar driver, Patrick was the most visible and most marketable, more so than even perennial champions Helio Castroneves and Dario Franchitti.
With Patrick gone and the sport still reeling from the death of Dan Wheldon, the powers-that-be at IndyCar must redouble their efforts to push and grow the series.
That all starts at the Indy 500, the series' most famous event, with or without Danica Patrick.
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