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Eury looks forward to full-time season with Patrick

August 26, 2011, Dave Rodman, NASCAR.com

BRISTOL, Tenn. -- Danica is equally pleased with 'good ol' southern boy,' says he understands her

JR Motorsports crew chief and co-owner Tony Eury Jr. smiles a lot -- that's just his nature.

But this weekend at Bristol, he's got a double reason to grin. Friday he was working on the No. 7 Chevrolet with promising newcomer Josh Wise, one day after Danica Patrick and sponsor GoDaddy.com announced a 2012 full-season Nationwide Series program in that car.

Eury, who focuses all of his attention on the competition side of the business, hasn't hesitated to praise Wise, an open-wheel graduate whose stock-car future is undetermined.

But he's almost inside-out in anticipation of having a shot at a NASCAR championship with Patrick, who will finish her 2011 IndyCar Series schedule before embarking on a stock-car career.

"I think it'll be a blast," Eury said of the deal. "I'm glad it all worked out and that's kinda what I told them from the beginning. I didn't want to know much about [the negotiations]. I just let it go."

Eury said he sent Patrick a message Thursday "telling her I was tickled to death, happy about it."

"We've just got to make sure that me and this race team are up to the task," Eury said. "And let's go do it."

Patrick is equally pleased with the only stock car crew chief she's ever known

"He's been really great -- a really talented guy," Patrick said. "He's just like a good ol' southern boy. He gets really serious when you're in the moment, but he's a heckuva lot of fun out of that.

"He gets everyone to work really hard around him, and I think he's understood me really well. I feel really lucky to have had such experience on my side for those first times that I've driven in a stock car."

The No. 7 has run full Nationwide schedules with a cornucopia of drivers the past two seasons, including 20 races by Patrick.

Eury's looking forward to the stability of working with just one driver.

"We've had different drivers in and out, so to go with some consistency, it'll be easier to come up with setups and tune on them," Eury said. "That's the thing about having the same driver, all year. When you do have [different] drivers you do learn other ways that people look at things, how other drivers are manipulating set-ups and stuff.

"That's interesting in itself, because you're not stuck in one [mode]. It'll be neat to have a little bit more consistency."

In addition to running full-time in Nationwide, Patrick said Thursday that she plans to compete next season in eight to 10 Cup Series races for Stewart-Haas Racing. Eury said there have been no discussions about him being the crew chief for Patrick's Cup races -- though he also said he'd be willing to try anything.

Eury also had plenty to say about the balance of 2011 -- in which Patrick has five more stock-car races scheduled. She'll race on the weekend of the Chase for the Sprint Cup cutoff at Richmond, then prepare for Kansas, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

"We'll try to get some more testing in before the end of the year at some different tracks -- kinda like we took baby steps this year."

--TONY EURY JR.

"It makes those races more important [now that we know we have a full schedule in 2012], but I wouldn't say it puts a different spin on them," Eury said. "They're important because, now you're really focused on making sure you come out of the box with her strong, in 2012, like we did this year."

At the beginning of 2011, when Patrick ran the first four races before going back to Indy cars, she was ninth in the championship when she took her first break.

"We've got to have another good start like that, so we're going to make damned sure that we take full advantage of everything we do," Eury said. "We'll try to get some more testing in before the end of the year at some different tracks -- kinda like we took baby steps this year."

Eury said there's a rumored Nationwide race in 2012 at Rockingham Speedway, "so we might schedule a test there, and we're going to be going to some new tracks for her, like Darlington, so we need to be prepared for that."

NASCAR confirmed Friday, that under current rules, no testing is allowed during the year at tracks where the three national series compete. If Rockingham was put on the schedule, probably no testing would be allowed there, either. However, the Nationwide Series typically runs open practice days before new venues, or new surfaces are used -- such as an open practice scheduled in November on Phoenix International Raceway's new surface.

On Thursday, Patrick said she was still uncertain about the 2012 Indy 500.

Eury thought a moment about NASCAR's typical schedule during the month of May and instantly bought into the idea of Patrick attempting the one open-wheel race that means the most to her.

"I think it would go pretty easy," Eury said. "The biggest thing you'd be looking at would be qualifying [for Indy] the week before, when we're in Iowa. I know it's a dream of hers -- that's where she grew up.

"It'd be the same thing as Dale Earnhardt Jr. being here, having never won the Daytona 500 and deciding he wanted to go run Indy cars. [Winning the Daytona 500] would always be something he wanted to do. It's the same thing [for Patrick] -- just backwards.

"That's where she come from, it's the biggest race of the year and it's always something she wanted to do. So if she wants to do it, it's all in the [hands of] the powers that be wanting to make it happen."