September 25, 2009

MOORESVILLE, N.C. -- Danica Patrick signed a three-year contract to remain at Andretti Green Racing in the IndyCar Series, according to team and IndyCar sources.

Patrick, who told on August 21 that she was going to re-sign with the IndyCar Series team, and reaffirmed that intention last week at the IndyCar Series race at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, was able to finalize her deal.

Patrick, the first female to win in a major, closed-course racing series with her victory at Twin Ring Motegi on April 20, 2008, signed an extension with the IndyCar Series team to remain as the driver of the No. 7 entry sponsored by Boost Mobile and Motorola.

The signing will be officially announced at later time, presumably around the IndyCar Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Oct. 10.

"She is great for our series and an important part of our series," said Jeff Belskus, the CEO of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Corporation -- the parent company of the IndyCar Series. "I won't sit here and say it's absolutely necessary to have her in the series, but we certainly prefer for her to be a part of the IndyCar Series. It was understandable that she was considering all of the options open to her.

"My hope is she will be an IndyCar driver first and foremost, even when she tries to run in other series. She has said the Indianapolis 500 is important to her and a lifelong dream for her to win that."

With Patrick's new deal, she has three more cracks at winning the Indy 500.

And by remaining an IndyCar driver, the series can breathe a sigh of relief.

While Patrick's new deal will allow her to compete in a limited number of NASCAR lower division races, such as ARCA, Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series, she has not committed to anything.

"As I've said, NASCAR is something that interests me," Patrick said on Sept. 19. "That's not a different answer and that's not a different idea so I don't know why people are making a big deal about it. Tony Stewart gave me a lot of advice. I'm a ball of questions and I've known him for a long, long time. I also had a chance to congratulate him on the success this year as an owner/driver."

Stewart, an owner/driver in Sprint Cup, has said he has "no plans" on running Patrick. But she could be in line to run with either Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports as part of the JR Motorsports Nationwide Series entry, which is sponsored by -- one of Patrick's major backers. signed a two-year deal with Sprint Cup driver Mark Martin last week to support the No. 5 Chevrolet at Hendrick Motorsports, opening the possibility of Patrick replacing Martin when he retires if she shows enough promise on the NASCAR side by the time her IndyCar deal is up.

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