Stewart-Haas Racing officials confirmed that IndyCar star Danica Patrick visited the team's workshop this week but played down suggestions linking her with the outfit in the future.
Patrick was spotted at the SHR headquarters in Kannapolis, North Carolina on Monday, where she was given a tour of the facilities and introduced to several team members according to the team. The squad's owner and driver Tony Stewart was not in attendance on her visit because he was at Atlanta Motor Speedway completing a two-day tire test for Goodyear.
"Danica Patrick was in the area and did visit Stewart-Haas Racing, said team spokesman Mike Arning. "While Tony Stewart was not at the shop – he was at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the first of a two-day Goodyear tire test – he has known Danica for some time and has always been a supporter of her racing career.
"Danica has had a standing invitation to visit Stewart-Haas Racing since Tony announced his intentions to become a driver/owner in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series a year ago. We simply facilitated a tour of the facility and introduced her to a handful of people who were at Stewart-Haas Racing on Monday."
IndyCar's most popular driver has never hidden her interest in NASCAR. Her current contract with Andretti-Green Racing expires at the end of the year and a move to America's most popular racing series is believed to be among her options for 2010. Two weeks ago at Daytona, Stewart praised Patrick's abilities but said that it's hard to predict how successful she would be in NASCAR if she ever decided to make the switch from open-wheel racing.
The two-time Sprint Cup champion has been the only driver ever to win NASCAR and IndyCar titles, claiming the IRL championship in 1997 before switching full-time to the Sprint Cup in 1998, where he got his first crown three years later.
"Obviously she's gotten where she is because she has a ton of talent," said Stewart. "You don't back into winning races and getting to the upper levels of racing by not having talent.
"Nobody knows for sure what level of talent she's got as far as a stock car until she actually just gets in one. If she's serious about it, I don't know if she needs to get in a Late Model first and run some laps and then try to get back to a radial-tired car. Only time will tell. If she's really serious, it's kind of a crossroad for her. I know it's been a topic of discussion but if it's something she really wants to do, she has to be committed to it."