CONCORD, N.C. — Danica Patrick still follows the Indianapolis 500 closely, even pre-organizing her race day schedule this Sunday so she can watch most of the event.
As for participating in the race again, that’s a different story.
Patrick, who first earned her popularity in open-wheel racing, said her focus is on NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series and the chances of her running at the Indy 500 become “less and less likely with each passing year.”
“Each year my desire to race there is less and less and my apprehension grows higher and higher,” Patrick told The Associated Press earlier this week.
Patrick said she briefly contemplated pulling “double duty” this year and racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Coca 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day just as her current team owner Tony Stewart has done in the past.
But Patrick thought better of the idea.
“I thought this year was going to happen, but it’s just not going to be helpful for my Cup career,” said Patrick, who has run the Indy 500 seven times. “And at the end of the day that’s the most important thing.”
Patrick’s history in IndyCar is well known, and she did well at the Indy 500, too. She qualified fourth in 2005, eventually led 29 laps during her open-wheel career and finished third in 2009 after challenging for the win.
Patrick now wants her attention on getting better at NASCAR racing.
In her first full season on the Sprint Cup series, Patrick ranks 28th in the points standings with one top-10 finish, that being an eighth place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500. She’s finished 25th or worse in nine of the 11 points races.
Patrick spent last weekend tuned into Indy 500 qualifying and her eyes light up when she talks about it.
“I love that event,” Patrick said. “Having social media allows you to see what’s going on much more these days.”
She said one of the drivers she’ll be rooting for is James Hinchcliffe, who is sponsored by the same company as Patrick.
“There is a Go Daddy car out there and their business is doing well that’s a good thing for me, too,” Patrick said. “But I feel like by the end of the race I’ll be pulling for someone. I just don’t know who that’s going to be yet. But I’m anxious for the race.”