Ganassi not likely to take on Patrick

INDIANAPOLIS -- Chip Ganassi doesn't believe Danica Patrick should leave the IndyCar Series after this season to pursue a full-time ride in NASCAR.

"Her IndyCar career, she's about to make a step in that career if she decides to stay there," Ganassi said before Friday's Sprint Cup practice for the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. "She's got one more step to make, and that's it.

"As much as I love what's going on here this weekend, my counsel to her is she's pretty close to making that last step in IndyCar racing and she could easily do that in the next three or four or five years and still be able to do this."

Ganassi owns five teams between the IndyCar and Sprint Cup series, having won the Indianapolis 500 three times. He acknowledged talking to Patrick -- whose contract with Andretti Green expires after this season -- about driving for him in IndyCar.

"If she wanted to do NASCAR on a full-time basis I would suggest there are better places for her to go and do it with [than Earnhardt Ganassi Racing]," said Ganassi, who is returning to the track for the first time in a month after undergoing eye surgery. "I don't think our team is in position to do that."

There has been speculation that Patrick could compete in a handful of Nationwide or Cup events after the IndyCar season. EGR does not have a full-time Nationwide program, which many believe Patrick must compete in for a year or two before making the move to Cup.

Ganassi doesn't appear interested in that commitment.

"It's a really nice thing to have a team of drivers that are veterans in their specific categories," he said. "Really, that's not anything against Danica. What I'm saying is in these economic times you need less variables. I'm not interested in more variables."

Ganassi characterized his talks with Patrick, who finished fourth in the Indianapolis 500 two months ago, as being on the pace lap level.

"She's on the market right now and she's ready to make the next step in her career, wherever that takes her," he said. "I wish I could tell you I'm a lot further down the road on that. The fact of the matter is, like most of the other teams, we're in the top of the first inning on that."

Ganassi added that the 27-year-old Patrick doesn't have to rush into Cup, that she still is young enough to move to NASCAR.

"She's one of those athletes that she can make a lot of turns in her career today," he said. "And she'll have the opportunity to make those career moves in the foreseeable future."

David Newton covers NASCAR for ESPN.com. He can be reached at dnewtonespn@aol.com.