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Danica Patrick visits TMS Speeding to Read program.mov

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Published on Nov 1, 2012

PATRICK GETS "ROCK STAR' TREATMENT FROM 1,500 ELEMENTARY STUDENTS COMPETING IN TEXAS MOTOR SPEEDWAY'S "SPEEDING TO READ" PROGRAM

FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 1, 2012) - Danica Patrick owns rock-star status when it comes to popularity in motorsports, but on a supposed quiet Thursday morning at Texas Motor Speedway, she actually felt like a music star.

Thunderous chants of "DAN-I-CA," cascaded from the frontstretch grandstands as 1,500 students from three nearby Northwest ISD elementary schools showed their raucous appreciation for Patrick visiting with them for the Turn 2 awards assembly of Texas Motor Speedway's "Speeding To Read" educational program.

Patrick was on hand to speak with the student bodies and faculty from W.R. Hatfield, Clara Love and Justin elementary schools about the important of reading, encouraging them to chase their dreams while sharing her early start and meteoric rise in motorsports. The top-reading classrooms and individuals also were treated to Patrick presenting them with their trophies, signing autographs and taking photographs along with Sonic the Hedgehog mascot next to her SEGA-themed No. 7 Nationwide Series show car on the frontstretch.

"That was a really fun experience with all the kids," Patrick said. "To see them get all excited about something maybe when you are growing up that you think 'Ah man, I have to read,' but they make it fun and rewarding for the kids and it teaches them how to read," Patrick said. "I feel the more you read when you're younger, the more you read when you get older. That's definitely been a highlight of the week to see them cheering so much. They made me feel like I was Taylor Swift up there or something."

"Speeding To Read" is an incentive-based, NASCAR-themed reading program created by Texas Motor Speedway to encourage elementary school students to read more frequently during the school year. The program, currently in its second year, has the three schools going head to head to determine the school champions of the "Speeding To Read" competition as well as the top classrooms and individuals in the two divisions (Kindergarten-2nd Grade and Grades 3-5). The competition is split into four quarters - or four turns like a speedway - with the students and schools being rewarded at each turn.

"It's great any time that you can do things with kids or do things that help communities or something outside of the norm are always things we try and do if we can make it work on a race weekend," Patrick said. "We were here a little early - I was doing an event yesterday - so we had some time to be able to do these types of good things. It's definitely been the highlight so far this week."

On Thursday, the Turn 2 leaders were rewarded with special appearances by Patrick and Sonic; two tickets to Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge Nationwide Series race to watch her compete; Patrick's autobiography; AAA Texas 500 race program; Sonic the Hedgehog lanyard; special edition Sonic the Hedgehog comic book from Archie Comics; and books for their home library from Score-A-Goal in the Classroom.

Patrick also donated several hardback copies of her autobiography, "Danica-Crossing the Line," to each school's library for the other students to enjoy during the competition.
"It was really cool to go on the same track that Danica will race on this weekend and see her car and meet Sonic the Hedgehog,'' said Clara Love fifth-grader Brandon Etchieson, who was among the top five readers in the Grades 3-5 Division. "I'm really looking forward to coming back and seeing her race this weekend."

Patrick will be performing double duty this weekend, competing in both Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge and Sunday's AAA Texas 500 Sprint Cup Series race. Sonic the Hedgehog will be on her No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet with a special paint scheme for the O'Reilly Auto Parts Challenge. She also will be driving the No. 10 GoDaddy Racing Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in the AAA Texas 500.

"It may be tough for both the Saturday and Sunday crowds combined to match the reception she received from these students," Texas Motor Speedway Vice President of Media Relations Mike Zizzo said. "She transcends all age groups as witnessed by today and her visit was a big boost to keep these students motivated to keep reading at a high level. She was a big hit with the students and definitely left here with 1,500 more avid fans."

The three schools combined to read 92,908 books, with 49,192 coming in Turn 2. Hatfield unseated Turn 1 leader Clara Love and captured the lead in Turn 2 - the midpoint of the competition - by reading 25,992 books with 84 percent of their students meeting their reading goals. Hatfield Principal Cathy Sager was awarded the giant "Speeding To Read" trophy as the Turn 2 leader to showcase in their school until the competition reaches Turn 3 in February.

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