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Danica Patrick back in NASCAR this weekend; future still uncertain

Danica Patrick was at the Daytona International Speedway on Thursday, practicing in her NASCAR Nationwide car. A choice between returning to IndyCar or going to NASCAR full time awaits Danica Patrick.

By Mark LongAssociated Press / July 1, 2011

NASCAR driver Danica Patrick walks by her car before her qualifying run for the Nationwide Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla., Friday, July 1.

Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP

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Daytona Beach, Fla.

Danica Patrick remains unaffected by the swirl of speculation that trails her everywhere, saying she has no timetable for making a decision about her racing future.

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Patrick reiterated Thursday at Daytona International Speedway that she's in no hurry to chose between IndyCar and NASCAR.

"These things, as I've said from the beginning of the year, are complicated and they take time," Patrick said before the Nationwide Series practice. "Whether I'm coming here or not has yet to be signed, sealed and delivered. I might not be. Only time will tell. That timeline on my side of things, I'm really not sure. All I know is that I'm told I have a job to do in the car and you do your job and we'll do our job and they fill me in from time to time. But it's only July."

Patrick's pending decision has been a major topic of conversation all season, much of it coming as she jumped from NASCAR to the IndyCar Series and back again.

Finding success in both series could make her choice even tougher. She was fourth in a Nationwide race at Las Vegas in March, the best finish for a female driver in NASCAR history, and has posted four top-10s in her last five IndyCar events. She also led 10 laps in the Indianapolis 500, a brief stint out front that left her hungry for another shot at open-wheel's showcase event.

So what will sway her?

"It comes down to my gut and my desire and where I feel like I'll be the happiest and where I feel like I'll be able to have the most success," she said. "And then from those thoughts my team explores the options. But it always starts with where I want to be."

Patrick expressed little concern about reports her primary sponsor, GoDaddy.com, is being sold and said it would have no affect on her future.

The domain-name registration company known for its racy Super Bowl ads is reportedly close to being bought by two private investment firms for up to $2.5 billion. Patrick said GoDaddy CEO Bob Parsons hasn't said anything about a pending deal.

"It hasn't affected my day," Patrick said. "Still working with all the same people. I don't know if it's true. ... Unless I hear from Bob and he tells me it's been sold, it's all speculation till that point. For me, it's all status quo."

Parsons nixed rumors about a potential sale earlier in the year, Patrick said, but has been mum in recent weeks.

"I remember this came up in the early part of the year," Patrick said. "He called and told me that it wasn't true, and that was it. I haven't heard from him about it. I don't know if that means it's being done or if it's not going to be done. Perhaps they don't know that answer either.

"So I guess that why it's still in speculation mode as opposed to reported true or reported false. Will that affect my relationship with them? I don't know. It might not change anything. It might change everything. I'm not really sure. But like I said, right now for me it's still status quo. We're just trying to do a good job for them and represent them well."

Patrick finished 10th in her last Nationwide race in Chicago in early June, and will return to IndyCar next week in Toronto.

This weekend, though, she will try to hone her skills at Daytona. She was 14th at NASCAR's most famous track in the Nationwide season opener despite struggling with some aspects of the new tandem racing. She turned two laps in practice Thursday before scrapping the wall and returning to the garage.

"I need some practice," she said. "I want to be efficient at it, good at it, before the race starts."

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