Danica Patrick drives the wrecked No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet as flames… (Tom Pennington / Getty Images )
Danica Patrick said Wednesday she's duly prepared to race full time next year in NASCAR's premier Sprint Cup Series.
Patrick is set to join the series in 2013 after driving in 10 of its 36 races this year and driving all season in NASCAR's second-level Nationwide Series.
Asked in an interview with The Times if she was ready to compete over the full Cup schedule against NASCAR's best, Patrick replied, "I do, especially with the way the end of this year's gone, I really think so."
"Let's face it, there are going to be some learning curves for sure, but you've got to get going at some point," said Patrick, a former IndyCar racer who will drive a Sprint Cup stock car prepared by Stewart-Haas Racing, co-owned by three-time Cup champion Tony Stewart.
"If Tony Stewart and those guys stand behind me and they believe it too, then who am I to argue?" she said.
Patrick, 30, was in Los Angeles as part of her ongoing campaign to raise awareness of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), which claimed her grandmother. Wednesday was "World COPD Day."
Patrick's best showing in a Cup car came in her 10th and final race on Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway, where she finished 17th.
She was running 13th but was spun out and hit the wall with two laps left in the race. She kept driving, slowly, to finish the race but unknowingly was losing oil.
The spilled oil caused several of the leaders to wreck as they came back around on the final lap under full speed because no caution flag had been thrown. Patrick too was collected a second time in the accident.
While some NASCAR watchers said the caution flag should have come out just after Patrick hit the wall, others said Patrick should have pitted immediately instead of staying on the track along the inside wall.
Why didn't she pit? "Because it was the end of the race and I just wanted clip the [finish] line," she said, adding that she also did not get orders from her crew chief to pit.
The car still "drove and it was fine and I was, like, let's limp across the line," Patrick said. "The car was filling up with smoke so I tried to just drive along the wall. I didn't even care if I scraped it the whole way ... so it stayed out of the way" of the other cars, she said.