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Patrick secures starting spot in Daytona 500

Stay up to date on all of the latest news, headlines and race recaps from the Truck Racing Series at Truck Trend. Read the following full length Truck Series news article from January 2012.

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Patrick secures starting spot in Daytona 500

Kannapolis, NC (Sports Network) - Danica Patrick will be guaranteed a starting position in the February 26 Daytona 500 due to a transfer of owner points from Tommy Baldwin Racing to Patrick's team, Stewart-Haas Racing.

SHR and TBR announced on Tuesday that both racing organizations have formed a collaborative partnership. TBR will field the No.10 GoDaddy Chevrolet for all 10 of Patrick's Sprint Cup Series races, including the season-opener at Daytona, in 2012.

TBR's No.36 car, which finished the 2011 season 33rd in owner points, will become the No.10 entry for this upcoming season. David Reutimann will drive the No.10 in the 26 races where Patrick is not scheduled to compete. Dave Blaney drove for TBR last year. Blaney will drive another entry for the team this season.

Reutimann, who had been with Michael Waltrip Racing the past five Sprint Cup seasons, will attempt to keep the No.10 car in the top-35 rankings in owner points to assure Patrick a starting spot in each of her remaining races throughout the season.

"Tommy Baldwin Racing has proven to be a very strong organization, and it's a good fit with Stewart-Haas Racing," Matt Borland, the vice president of competition for Stewart-Haas Racing, said in a team statement. "It's a Chevrolet team led by a racer who knows every inch of a racecar. That kind of technical expertise, along with a company mindset that is similar to ours, provides the ideal environment for Danica to learn and succeed."

TBR, which is owned by Tommy Baldwin, a veteran Sprint Cup crew chief, had been a single-car operation since its entrance into NASCAR's premier series in 2009. As a crew chief, Baldwin has won five Sprint Cup races, including the 2002 Daytona 500 with driver Ward Burton.

"We're very proud of what we've established at Tommy Baldwin Racing, and the opportunity to partner with Stewart-Haas Racing and aid in the development of Danica Patrick is a testament to all the hard work we've put in over the years," Baldwin said. "Danica will have a great teammate in Dave Blaney, who has been instrumental in getting our race team to where it is today. And with David Reutimann driving the No.10 car in the races where Danica is not, the team will remain in a strong and competitive position throughout the year."

As part of the alliance, Baldwin will work closely with Patrick's crew chief, Greg Zipadelli, who also serves as SHR's director of competition. Zipadelli most recently served as crew chief for Joe Gibbs Racing's No.20 team, with driver Joey Logano.

"Working with Tommy will be like old times," Zipadelli said. "We both grew up together and competed against each other in modifieds, and we did the same thing when we got to Sprint Cup. To finally be able to work with each other and help Danica Patrick make a successful transition from Indy cars to stock cars is a challenge we're both looking forward to."

Patrick left the IndyCar Series at the end of last season to compete in NASCAR full-time this year, running the entire 33-race schedule in the Nationwide Series and a partial one in Sprint Cup. She will drive the No.7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports in Nationwide.

After next month's race at Daytona, Patrick will not compete in a Sprint Cup race until May 12 at Darlington. She is also slated to compete at Charlotte (May 27), Bristol (August 25), Atlanta (September 2), Chicagoland (Sept. 16), Dover (Sept. 30), Texas (November 4) and Phoenix (Nov. 11).

Last week, Patrick announced she will forgo this year's Indianapolis 500 to compete in the 600-mile race at Charlotte. Her tenth Sprint Cup event this season will be announced at a later date.

SHR is hopeful Patrick will run a full-time schedule in Sprint Cup next year.

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