Danica Patrick is paying tribute to the late Dan Wheldon at Texas Motor Speedway this weekend, running a paint scheme and helmet honoring her former IndyCar Series colleague.
Wheldon, who was killed in the IndyCar season finale last month at Las Vegas, will have his trademark "Lionheart" logo on the black hood of Patrick's Nationwide Series car.
In addition, Patrick's helmet is adorned with Wheldon tributes and lettering. She will auction the helmet after the race and give the proceeds to Wheldon's family, and will also donate her race winnings from Saturday's event.
"I'm honored," she said of being able to run the Wheldon tribute on her car. "It's a privilege."
Patrick said she was thankful to have a couple weeks without racing to create some emotional space between the IndyCar finale and her new beginning in NASCAR. She's already announced plans to drive a full-time Nationwide Series schedule next season and will announce her Sprint Cup plans with Stewart-Haas Racing later today.
The GoDaddy girl said it wasn't difficult of painful for her to look at the paint scheme – even when the crew would lift up the hood and all she would see is "LIONHEART" in the windshield.
"It feels comforting in a way, to be honest," she said. "I feel like I have a little angel, in a way."
Patrick said Wheldon's death was "a tragedy and it's terrible," but hoped IndyCar could learn something about safety from the loss.
That said, she added, she's not thinking about IndyCar's problems much anymore.
"I've been describing (today) as the first day of the rest of my life," she said. "I'm all in here, and these are my thoughts and my focus."
However, Patrick also said she's not willing to shut the door on running the Indianapolis 500 next year or in the future.
"I'd love to do Indy – it's the greatest race in the world, in my opinion," she said. "I still feel like I have memories to create. No, (Wheldon's death) won't affect my decision."