JRM exploring limited deal with Danica

Updated: October 6, 2009, 2:19 AM ET
By David Newton | ESPN.com

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The darling of the IndyCar Series and NASCAR's most popular driver could be joining forces in 2010.

Kelley Earnhardt Elledge, the president of JR Motorsports that is co-owned by Sprint Cup star Dale Earnhardt Jr., said on Monday she is exploring options that could put Danica Patrick in a limited number of Nationwide Series races next year.

"There is a natural fit at JRM with Dale Jr. and Danica both serving as spokespersons for GoDaddy.com," Elledge said. "As a female managing one of the top Nationwide Series teams in the sport, I would be excited to have Danica within the JR Motorsports fold if she decides to enter the world of NASCAR."

Rick Hendrick, who co-owns JR Motorsports with Earnhardt, told SI.com on Sunday about the potential deal. The owner of Hendrick Motorsports told the Web site that they are trying to work around Patrick's IndyCar schedule for a limited number of Nationwide and ARCA races.

It was reported two weeks ago that Patrick signed a three-year extension to remain in the IndyCar Series with Andretti Green Racing. Team officials said they were unable to comment at this time. Sources close to the situation said the official announcement will be made when the sponsor is ready.

Elledge said Patrick would split time with Earnhardt and several other drivers in the No. 5. Kelly Bires recently was signed to replace Brad Keselowski in the No. 88 car next season.

"Kelly bires will run 88 full time," Elledge said in a text. "So she will be part time in 2nd car."

GoDaddy.com, which sponsors Keselowski in the Nationwide Series this season, recently announced it would be the primary sponsor on Mark Martin's No. 5 Sprint Cup car next year.

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

David Newton | email

ESPN Carolina Panthers reporter

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