Patrick keeping Cup skills sharp

Danica Patrick, driver of the #7 Unites An American Salute Chevrolet, stands on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series Subway Jalapeno 250 Powered by Coca-Cola at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images for NASCAR)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. –If she sticks to her current schedule, Danica Patrick will be taking a long hiatus from Sprint Cup racing.

Patrick last raced in the series at Charlotte in May and isn’t slated to run another Cup race until Aug. 25 at Bristol, unless she opts to run the one race on her schedule that’s still “to be determined” between now and then. If so, Indianapolis would be a logical choice, given Patrick’s open-wheel experience and popularity there.

Though Patrick hasn’t raced a Cup car since May, she will have time to prepare for her run at Bristol.

“I think we’re going testing next week,” Patrick said Friday at Daytona. “It’ll be good to get back in the Cup car at a short track. It’ll be good for me, because I haven’t been to one in a Cup car, and I’m sure, just like every other track . . . you get to the corner a lot faster, you’ve got to slow down a lot more, and you get going a lot quicker — I’m sure it’s going to be a handful.

“We try to do as much testing as possible, but obviously realizing that Stewart-Haas (which fields Patrick’s Cup cars) is in the middle of their Cup season, too, and trying to win another championship.”

Patrick crashed late in Friday night’s Nationwide race after leading laps and looking poised for a good finish. Patrick was sent spinning into the inside wall exiting turn 2. The crash started when Jeffrey Earnhardt was spun by Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Patrick was then shoved from behind and reminiscent of her crash here in the Duel qualifying race in February, was sent rocketing into the inside wall along the backstretch. She was able to climb from her mangled machine but her night was over, she was scored 31.


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