(Originally appeared on Aug. 10, 2001 at WRALSportsFan.com)
Carl Edwards. Check. Juan Pablo Montoya. Check (almost). Dale Earnhardt Jr. Check (also almost).
So now that most of NASCAR's most coveted free agents – or in Earnhardt's case, getting a deal done a year before his current contract expires – have either signed new deals or are close to doing so, it's time to turn attention to the next big name that will likely soon sign on the dotted line.
The pride and joy of Roscoe, Ill., (right outside Rockford, which is about 90 miles northwest of Chicago) is reportedly very close to signing a deal that will put her in a full-time ride in the Nationwide Series for 2012 with the Earnhardt-owned JR Motorsports. In addition, Patrick is also supposedly close to signing a sidebar agreement that will have her run in several Sprint Cup events next year as well, reportedly for Stewart Haas Racing.
Of course, everyone reportedly involved in the supposed deal isn't saying anything, not Danica, Stewart, Earnhardt, Rick Hendrick – not even NASCAR chairman Brian France or president Mike Helton.
But there's no question everyone is keeping their fingers and toes crossed and praying to their favorite god that Patrick does indeed make good on her rumored departure from IndyCar and her emigration to the full-time world of NASCAR racing.
All it will take is her signature on a contract. That's when the real fun will begin.
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