Patrick’s driving career in jeopardy
Danica Patrick, the only female driver at NASCAR’s top level, is likely at the end of her driving career after a sponsorship shake-up left her without a ride at StewartHaas Racing.
Patrick posted a statement on her Facebook page Tuesday saying her time with Stewart-Haas “had come to an end” due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season. The statement came shortly after Smithfield Foods said it will leave Richard Petty Motorsports to become a primary sponsor at Stewart-Haas next year.
The news is a blow to RPM, which is also losing driver Aric Almirola. But it also forced changes at StewartHaas, which has struggled with sponsorship for three of its four cars, including the No. 10 Ford driven by Patrick.
“It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at StewartHaas Racing for the past six seasons,” said Patrick, whose participation in NASCAR has always been polarizing given the attention she receives despite her lack of success.
Patrick has launched a clothing line, has a book coming out next year and has made a huge transition into promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. It has her positioned for a second career at the age of 35 if she chooses. She’s also in a long-term relationship with fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will make his debut in the playoffs this weekend.
Patrick has driven for Stewart-Haas Racing her entire Cup career. She has seven top-10 finishes in 180 career starts and is currently 28th in the standings, the lowest in her Cup career.
Still, she won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, won an IndyCar race in 2008, is the highest finishing female driver in Indianapolis 500 history with a third-place run in 2009 and is the only woman to lead laps in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. Patrick is the only woman to win a Cup pole, and those top-10 finishes are the most of any female Cup driver.