For a driver who hasn’t won a single NASCAR race, Danica Patrick sure does get a lot of attention. But she may not be on the grid at all next season.
The racing starlet confirmed via Facebook that she has lost her ride with Stewart-Haas Racing – the front-running team with which she has competed since 2013. And with no replacement deal in place, it could spell the end of her lackluster career in the NASCAR’s premier Cup series.
“It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons,” wrote Danica. “Together we earned a Daytona 500 pole, seven top-10 finishes and we also had some exciting racing along the way. My time driving for them, however, has come to an end due to a new sponsorship arrangement in 2018.”
Danica made her name in IndyCars, where she won the Indy Japan 300 in 2008 and took third in the Indy 500 in 2009, making her the most accomplished woman in the history of top-tier American open-wheel racing.
She began transitioning to stock cars the following year, working her way up through the ranks while continuing to compete in open wheels until switching full-time in 2012 as she made it into the Cup series – first with Tommy Baldwin Racing, then with Stewart-Haas. But despite an impressive pole at Daytona in 2013, she’s yet to win a single NASCAR race: not in the Cup, not in the Nationwide/Xfinity Series, nor the K&N Pro Series or even ARCA.
Her departure from Stewart-Haas, however, comes down more directly to sponsorship than her performance. She was set to race this season with support from Nature’s Bakery, but after the company tried to bail and an ensuing court battle, she’s been left without a primary sponsor.
Danica’s bounced between branding throughout the season, her #10 Ford Fusion alternately bearing primary sponsorship from the likes of Aspen Dental, Ford Credit, Colorado State University, and the Warrior sportswear brand that she sells on the Home Shopping Network.
“Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport,” reads the statement on Danica’s wall, “and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve. Our amazing partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful. I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. Thanks for the memories. Right now, my focus is on the remainder of the 2017 season and finishing the year strong. I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future.”
The next big question is whether Danica can find a new sponsor – and a new ride – in time for next season’s start. If not, we may have heard the last from America’s most prominent female racing driver.