Patrick: ARCA race must be ‘stellar’ to do Daytona

Danica Patrick could win her stock car debut at Saturday’s ARCA race at Daytona and still decide to bypass the Nationwide Series opener there a week later.

“It doesn’t mean that I’m ready for that race,” the IndyCar star said Wednesday. “Maybe I didn’t get put in very many tough situations.”

Patrick joked that she was giving herself “a get out of jail free card” by not committing to any particular yardstick of what it would take to convince her to make her NASCAR debut in the second-tier series Feb. 13 at Daytona International Speedway.

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Where she finishes is less important than which new challenges she faces— and how she handles them.

“I’ll have to feel comfortable in all situations,” Patrick said. “It’s a much different animal from the Daytona 500 weekend with 30 Cup drivers and more cars and more experience. Every level you step up, if you’re not prepared, it’s just exponentially harder.

“It’s going to have to be a pretty stellar weekend.”

Otherwise, Patrick will make her debut the following week in Fontana, Calif.

JR Motorsports said last week that Patrick would race at least 12 NASCAR events this season but left the first one up in the air. Daytona would be a daunting task with its field of more than a dozen Sprint Cup regulars.

Patrick was in New York on Wednesday to promote a campaign raising awareness about Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. Her grandmother suffered from emphysema, one form of COPD.

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