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Danica Patrick, who is experimenting with stock car racing alongside her regular gig as an IndyCar driver this season, has expressed disappointment about the recently announced 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule. Patrick reckons that the absence of the International Speedway Corporation's ovals at Chicagoland, Homestead and Kansas from the calendar are a net loss for the fans, even though IndyCar is adding three new oval venues to replace them.
“I've never been shy of expressing my disappointment in the loss of ovals over the years…it's what the series started on, and I think it's exciting for the fans,” Patrick, who will compete in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Dover, told the Kansas City Star. “I hear from a lot of fans that road racing is kind of boring to watch on TV, and I think that's true. It's a lot about pit strategy and qualifying. It's really challenging…you work hard all weekend. On the ovals, the real work starts when the race starts – but that's for the fans, they get to enjoy that."
Patrick, who is expected to run a limited schedule of NASCAR events again next year while weighing up her future career options, acknowledged problems that led to the dropping of the ISC ovals by IndyCar, but said she is still not clear about why it became necessary to give up on them.
“I've always stressed it's important to keep ovals on the schedule, and mile-and-a-half (tracks) are exciting," she said. "It's disappointing to see another one go, but I don't pretend to know exactly all the reasons why. Some of it has to do with the promotion that ISC does for the NASCAR races vs. the IndyCar races, and how we [IndyCar] don't get a very good turnout."
IndyCar is returning to the Milwaukee and New Hampshire mile ovals next year in place of the ISC speedways, as well as one more oval track yet to be named. Las Vegas Motor Speedway is expected to become the new home of the series' season finale.
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