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Danica pleased by IRL's move to NHMS

Posted by Michael Vega, Globe Staff  June 22, 2010 03:41 PM

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Danica Patrick is happy the Izod IndyCar Series will be coming to NHMS July 31, 2011.
IndyCar Series star Danica Patrick, who will be driving her No. 7 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet in Saturday's NASCAR Nationwide Series race at New Hampshire International Speedway, seemed taken by surprise, but delighted nonethless by the news that the Indy Racing League would be coming to NHMS July 31, 2011.

``I kind of heard little rumors about it, but that's great news,'' Patrick said today during NASCAR's weekly teleconference. ``I love the fact we'll be putting another short oval back on to the schedule, because we're down to one this year that we just finished with.''

Patrick placed 10th in last Sunday's Izod IndyCar Series event, the Iowa Corn 250, at Iowa Speedway. The IRL will add the 1.058-mile oval at Loudon to next year's 17-race schedule, marking the first time in 12 years open-wheel racing will return to the Granite State.

``I always think short oval racing in an Indy car is great,'' said Patrick, who has recorded three top 10 results in her last three IndyCar starts: sixth at Indianapolis, 2d at Texas, and 10th at Iowa. ``And so it will be even better that I'll get a chance to get a look at the track and get familiar with it all this year if it's on the schedule next year. That's awesome. It's a real positive.

``Coming into that area, too, and being up in the northeast a little bit more, I think will be good,'' Patrick added. ``So that's great news.''

Patrick had never been to Boston until the week before the 94th Indy 500 when she and the rest of the 33 starters for the race attended a function co-hosted by series sponsor Izod and actor Mark Wahlberg to promote Izod's ``Fastest Seat in the House,'' a ride in a two-seater that Wahlberg participated in with owner/driver Michael Andretti before the start of the Indy 500.

The function just so happened to coincide with another major sports event in Boston: Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals between the Celtics and the Orlando Magic at TD Garden. When the Celtics advanced to the NBA Finals against the Los Angeles Lakers, Patrick did not hide her allegiance.

``I was cheering for the Celtics,'' she said. ``I know that's not a popular answer with my friends in LA. But I met Ray Allen a couple of years ago at the ESPY Awards. He was just a nice guy. I was kind of cheering for them. But obviously the Lakers are pretty good, too. Kobe is a nice guy. But I was torn. I was cheering for the Celtics.

``I think they obviously embrace their sports,'' Patrick said of the New England sports fan. ``I've raced in Watkins Glen [N.Y.] in an Indy car, but I really haven't been anywhere other than that in the Northeast, the New England area, for racing.

``So I'm excited to see what the fan turnout is like, but I'm sure if it's anything like how they cheer for all the rest of their sports, it will be great.''

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