Danica Patrick announced Tuesday that she will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. Patrick has spent her entire NASCAR Cup Series career with SHR after racing for seven years in the Verizon IndyCar Series. She began her first fulltime Cup season in 2013 with a bang by winning the Daytonna 500 pole and has raced for the past five years with the team co-owned by Gene Haas and former driver Tony Stewart.
Patrick made the announcement on her Facebook page after SHR announced a new sponsorship agreement with Smithfield Foods, which is leaving Richard Petty Motorsports after six years:
“It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons," Patrick said. "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.
"Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, 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.”
It's been a tough season for Patrick, who is ranked 28th in points aftter 26 of 36 races. She has one top-10 — June 4th at Dover International Speedway — and an average finish of 23.5 in 2017. Patrick's best season arguably came in 2014, when she recorded three top-10 finishes, including a career-high sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway. Patrick told USA TODAY Sports last month that she was at peace about her future in NASCAR, however it turned out.
“I would say mentally, emotionally, my approach has been peaceful and what will be will, and I don’t know," Patrick confided to Brant James. "I’m a little bit more present and a little less worried about the future or worried about what happened in the past. I’m just kind of letting it organically flow.” Patrick also said at the time that she would consider racing for another team. She would not, however, consider a part-time ride.