Danica Patrick will no longer be competing under the Stewart-Haas Racing banner following the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season.
The 35-year-old driver took to Facebook Tuesday afternoon (Sept. 12) to announce the news of her departure from the only full-time team she has driven for in NASCAR’s premier division.
“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 in a Facebook statement. “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.”
Early Tuesday morning, Smithfield Foods made it official that the longtime Richard Petty Motorsports sponsor would swap teams and work with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. However, SHR’s comment on the announcement later hinted that there will be a new driver within the four-car team next year.
Patrick has 180 Cup Series starts on her resume, with at least 10 more coming with SHR as the 2017 season concludes. She has seven career top 10s, with a best finish of sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014.
This season, though has been a struggle from the start. Primary backer Nature’s Bakery sued Stewart-Haas Racing over their sponsorship deal; in the end, the agreement was cut significantly. Patrick then suffered through a half-dozen wrecks, most of which were not of their making en route to a disappointing 28th in the season standings.
“I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver,” Patrick said. “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.”
Patrick, along with teammate Kurt Busch, entered the year with contracts expiring at the end of the season. As of now, Busch is reportedly in the midst of negotiating a new contract with SHR, but nothing has been made official.