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Danica Patrick let it slip that she will be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing in the 102nd Indianapolis 500 on Wednesday at Media Day for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.

She was there to talk about Daytona, the final NASCAR race of her career, but when Autoweek asked her how soon after that race before she starts thinking about the Indy 500, Patrick made a Freudian Slip of gigantic proportions.

“I didn’t have time to meet up with Ed and the people that….did I really say that out loud?” Patrick said. “Did I just do that? I’ve never done that in my career. The car they have now is more downforce than I raced in 2011. It’s less than they had before but it’s more than I had when I raced there.

“I better shut up and leave before I get into more trouble. Shoot.”

Patrick said it’s flattering that so many people in NASCAR will follow her Indy 500 effort, but she acted like she didn’t want to put out the word that she will be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing as she quickly ended her media availability and left.

“It’s been a long day already,” Patrick said. “I shouldn’t have said that.

IndyCar owner Ed Carpenter Danica Patrick could be close to Indy 500 deal

As Autoweek reported on Saturday, Ed Carpenter has emerged as the “heir apparent” to be Patrick’s team owner in the Indianapolis 500. The owner-driver of ECR told Autoweek last weekend at Phoenix that the two sides were negotiating but the final decision had yet to be made.

Patrick announced in November that the 2018 Indianapolis 500 would be the final race of her racing career.

“It’s getting close to the point where we have to make a decision,” Carpenter said. “Any time we have run an extra car it’s had to be the right situation with the right driver with the right partners involved. Until we get the right pieces put together there is no way to move forward.

“There is a still a strong possibility we could do it but until something is finished you won’t hear much.”

Carpenter is also the driver of the No. 20 Chevrolet on the ovals with Jordan King of England in that car for the street and road courses on the Verizon IndyCar Series schedule. The No. 21 entry is driven by Spencer Pigot in every event.

“I think Ed’s team can give Danica the speed she is looking for in the race,” said two-time Indianapolis 500 winning driver Al Unser, Jr., who works for Harding Racing in the IndyCar Series. “I think that is the reason why she will end up with Ed rather than Dreyer & Reinbold because they have been in contention to win the Indy 500 in the past and that is what she’s looking for.”

Carpenter admitted Patrick and GoDaddy would be great partners for his team at the Indy 500.

“They certainly check most of the boxes,” Carpenter said. “Danica has always been strong at Indy. She has good partners. There is always more to it than that, so we’ll see what happens.

“Clearly, we are busy right now testing in Phoenix and things at Daytona are kicking off today. I know how my mind works when I have something to focus on, so I don’t think anything will be determined until after the Daytona 500. I do think this would be a good thing. We’ll have to see how it all plays out and see where we get.”

Patrick has been a star at the Indianapolis 500 ever since her rookie season in 2005 when she started fourth, became the first female ever to lead the Indy 500, was in front for 19 laps and in the lead until seven laps to go when she was passed by eventual winner Dan Wheldon. She finished eighth at Indy in 2006 and 2007 and 22nd in 2008 – a little over one month after she became the first female driver ever to win a race in a major closed course racing series with her victory at Twin Ring Motegi.

In 2009, she finished third at Indy – that remains the highest finish ever by a female race driver. She was sixth in 2010 and 10 in 2011.

She became a full-time NASCAR Cup driver in 2012 before announcing at Homestead-Miami Speedway last November that she would retire after running the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 in 2018.

“I think it’s cool she had made a decision to come to Indy to end her career,” Carpenter said. “Like a lot of drivers, she was on the map, but Indy is what established her to the mainstream. AJ Foyt always credits Indy as making him. I think it’s fitting that’s the way she wants to go out.

“I hope for her wherever she ends up at Indy that it goes well for her.”

It appears she will be ending up in his Chevrolet.

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