Could Danica Patrick attempt the Indianapolis 500-Coca Cola 600 double?
In a Q&A with the Indianapolis Star's Curt Cavin, Patrick placed even odds on her participation in next year's Indianapolis 500. "Fair chance. I'll say 50-50. We're working on it," Patrick said.
Patrick, who made the move full-time to NASCAR from the Izod IndyCar Series before the 2012 season, is slated to run a full Sprint Cup Series schedule in 2013 for Stewart-Haas Racing. The Cup Series' Coca-Cola 600 starts a few hours after the Indianapolis 500 typically ends.
In 2003, Robby Gordon was the last driver to run both races. Her car owner, Tony Stewart, is the only driver to have completed all 1,100 miles of the double, but he last tried the feat in 2001. Needless to say, Patrick has a pretty good confidant if she has any questions about how to make the double work.
Patrick hasn't ever ruled out a return to open-wheel racing and Indianapolis, and she'll be in the midst of her first full season in the Sprint Cup Series. Logistics are in Patrick's favor – she could make running both races work. However, given her lack of Cup experience, is attempting the double in 2013 ideal?
Qualifying for the 500 next year is slated to be the same weekend as the Sprint Cup Series All-Star race and Patrick will likely be in the qualifying race to get into the All-Star race that Saturday night. And there's also a chance that she could win the fan vote to get into the All-Star race, especially now that Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a guaranteed All-Star starting spot. Indy 500 qualifying is during the day on Saturday and Sunday, so a back-and-forth weekend is doable. However, practice time would likely need to be sacrificed somewhere.
And that track time in the Cup Series cars is what Patrick needs most. She and Stewart have stressed the need for that over and over when discussing her 10-race 2012 schedule. Earlier in the year at Charlotte she finished 30th, five laps down. On the surface, that's hardly an indicator that practice time can afford to be missed.