Danica Patrick to run 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 before retiring

Danica Patrick’s driving career is not quite over but it is on its last lap.

Danica Patrick to run 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500 before retiring
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford
Danica Patrick, Stewart-Haas Racing Ford

In a tearful exit, Patrick said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway that 2017 would be her final full-time season as a NASCAR competitor.

“I don’t think I was necessarily pushed into this. I should be doing this. I feel like this is where my life should be headed,” she said. “Sometimes we just get nudged there. I was definitely faced with situations at the beginning of the year I have never faced before.

“I never had sponsor issues. It made me think about things. I am excited about the next phase, trust me.”

Ending her career with two marquee events

That next phase will include capping over her motorsports career by running two of its most prestigious events next season – the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.

Although she has never won either event, she has had success in both. She won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, led five laps and finished eighth.

In 2009, she finished in third in the Indy 500, making her the only woman to ever score a podium in the race.

“I am really excited about that. I think it is going to be a great way to cap (my career) off,” Patrick, 35, said.

As of now, Patrick said nothing was finalized as far as which teams she would compete for in those two races next season.

Patrick announced earlier this season that she would not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing next year, in part due to the lack of sponsorship.

With no firm plans set for next season, Patrick has said repeatedly that she would not be opposed to stepping away from racing if it was no longer fun.

“As I said, if it’s not going to get better, I don’t want to do it because it is not fun. Here I am, it is not fun,” she said. “My urgency to push to keep doing everything was not really there.

“If something that wasn’t really enticing didn’t come up, I wasn’t going to push for something else.”

In 189 career starts in the Cup Series, Patrick has no wins, seven top-10 finishes and one pole. In 53,321 laps of competition, she has led 64.

She also made 61 starts in the Xfinity Series, with one top-five and seven top-10 finishes and one pole.

Former Cup champion and Patrick’s SHR teammate, Kevin Harvick, said Thursday that was no way to measure Patrick’s impact to NASCAR.

“I don’t think you’ll start to figure it all out until she’s probably not here. So it’s been great to kind of see some of that from the outside looking in and being on the same team and just some of the different challenges and things that she has to face and do,” he said.

“But she’s a mega-star. I think as you look at the things that she’s accomplished, I mean, there’s … who do you compare it to, really? There’s not anybody else lined up to fill those shoes and do the things that she’s done.

“So yeah, I mean, that’ll create a huge hole if she’s not here.”

 

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