NASCAR drivers tell Danica to come over full-time

October, 9, 2009

FONTANA, Calif. -- All-in or not at all.

That's the message Juan Pablo Montoya and Jimmie Johnson had for Danica Patrick and her plan to give NASCAR a shot.

Patrick is hoping to work out a deal with JR Motorsports to run a few Nationwide races next season while continuing to race full-time in the IndyCar Series.

"I wouldn't be doing both cars, to be honest with you," Montoya said Friday. "That's my advice. The cars are so different. You will get comfortable [in the Nationwide car] and then go to the other thing, and every time you come back will be like night and day."

Johnson, who was listening when Montoya gave his opinion on Patrick's plan, shook his head in agreement.

"I think that's a valid point," Johnson said. "The overall thing she needs to accomplish is getting seat time. That's everything in learning these cars and these tracks. She may have raced at some of these tracks, but not in a closed-body vehicle. So it boils down to seat time."

One successful Sprint Cup driver made his NASCAR start while continuing to race Indy cars. Tony Stewart ran nine Nationwide races in 1996 and five Nationwide races in 1997 when he won the IRL championship.

Stewart raced 22 Nationwide events for Joe Gibbs Racing in 1998 while running the full IRL schedule before moving full-time to Cup in 1999.

Patrick visited the Stewart-Haas Racing shop earlier this year. Stewart was impressed with her attitude toward making the move to NASCAR.

"I know that she's serious about it," Stewart said last month at Atlanta. "I don't think she has some misguided idea that it's going to be easy. She wants to do it the right way."

Carl Edwards said Patrick shouldn't expect too much too soon.

"As far as advice to Danica, I guess the biggest thing would just be patience," Edwards said Friday. "The races are very long and the competition is so close that if you go out there and get impatient or try too hard, that's a surefire way to disaster.

"It's just patience. It will take time no matter how good someone is. I think coming from another discipline to this, that's a huge step."

Johnson thought Patrick should try to drive anything with a body on it, and accept the fact that she's going to have some accidents.

"Hit some walls," Johnson said. "Tear up equipment, make mistakes. You have to go through that. You can't shortcut it. It doesn't matter if you're Juan Pablo from F1 or the guy from the local short track. You have to go though those experiences to learn."

Terry Blount

ESPN Staff Writer



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