Tony Stewart says Danica Patrick is serious about a future in NASCAR and suggested the IndyCar star could make a progressive switch starting next year with a number of Nationwide Series outings.
The two-time Sprint Cup and former Indy Racing League champion confirmed that Patrick visited his team's headquarters again this week, following a first visit in July. He said Patrick told him she wants to make the transition to NASCAR in the future and is looking for guidance from Stewart in order to plan her jump to stock cars.
"I know that she's serious about it," said Stewart. "She's come over and just talking for things right now. I know that's what she wants to do. She looked me straight in the eye and said 'this is what I want to do - it looks like fun, looks like a lot of work, but it looks like fun.'
"I don't think she has some misguided idea that it's going to be easy doing it. She wants to do it the right way, she has the intentions of doing everything right and she's kind of come to us to see our opinion about how she should go about it."
Stewart said Patrick still plans to remain in IndyCars next season while trying to make a slow transition into NASCAR.
"I think she wants to know how to make the transition more than anything and she's trying to put together her IRL deal and try to figure out how to transition that into NASCAR," Stewart added. "I think she's trying to do it the right way. She's not just cutting the cord and all of the sudden jumping in a car that she's unfamiliar with. She wants to stay successful where she's at, but in the meantime try to figure out a way to be able to drive and get some seat time in a car to where she can start learning to where when she does come out she's got her act together."
Stewart believes the Andretti Green driver could run a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series next season, while competing still full time in IndyCars. He praised the female racer for not underestimating the task she is set to face in trying to make a successful transition to NASCAR.
"The great thing is that she asked a lot of very smart questions in the discussions about it," said Stewart. "You can tell that she wants to do it the right way, she understands how hard everybody has worked to get to this level here and she doesn't want to be one of those people that just comes in and gets stuff handed to her. She wants to earn her way and work her way up through like everybody else has."
Stewart is the only driver to earn titles both in the IRL IndyCar Series and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Although his team does not currently field any cars in the Nationwide Series, his technical affiliation with Hendrick Motorsports could pave the way for Patrick to drive cars from one of the top organizations in NASCAR, as she attempts to break into the stock car scene.