Danica Patrick is out as a driver for Stewart-Haas Racing’s NASCAR Cup team, effective at season’s end, and it’s unlikely we’ll see her compete in stock car racing again.
On the track, her NASCAR career has been a giant dud. Her greatest accomplishment is winning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500. For the uninitiated, that’s not exactly a victory – it simply means she got the most favorable starting position. She finished eighth in that race.
That was one of seven top-10 finishes for Patrick in 180 races during six years on the circuit. That’s not a lot. She’s never won a NASCAR race and has never finished in the top five.
Her best finish in the points standings was 24th, in both 2015 and 2016. This season, she is in 28th in points with 10 races remaining.
In other words, she’s an also-ran her entire career.
Of the track, it’s a completely different story. She’s second only to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in terms of driver popularity. She’s graced the pages of Sports Illustrated’s Swimsuit Issue, Maxim and FHM because she’s kinda hot. She’s appeared in Super Bowl ads and counts major national brands like Coca-Cola, Ford and Nationwide among her sponsors.
In other words, she’s got plenty of money to retire in style.
As Patrick wrote on her Facebook page, her time with Stewart-Haas is up because of a sponsorship situation.
GoDaddy ended its sponsorship of her team in 2015 and was replaced by a company calls Nature’s Bakery, which makes healthy snack foods. The sponsorship deal went south when the company terminated its deal prematurely and was sued by racing team.
Patrick’s contract with Stewart-Haas wasn’t slated to end until 2018, but neither side seemed interested in continuing the relationship beyond then. That put the team in an awkward spot of trying to sell one-year sponsorship deals for Patrick, rather than long-term deals for a new driver, ESPN.com reported.
Patrick seems lukewarm about continuing to race.
“I want to continue racing if I have an opportunity to do well,” Patrick said last month. “I have no interest, as I’ve said for years now, to run 20-25th. That’s not fun. If I don’t feel like I can have the opportunity to move on from there and have a better opportunity, then honestly, I don’t care [about racing] just because it’s not fun. I don’t drive because I love the thrill of getting sideways.”
Well then, perhaps she can join Ronda Rousey in the WWE.