On Friday afternoon at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Danica Patrick announced that 2017 will be her final full-time season as a racecar driver, but will compete in the 60th annual Daytona 500 and end her career at the 102nd Indianapolis 500 in 2018.
Patrick admitted that coming into the 2017 season, she faced something she never had to face before — sponsorship woes. It took “months” to come to the realization that retirement was in her future.
“I don’t necessarily feel like I was pushed into doing this,’ Patrick said while sobbing. “I’m excited about the next phase, trust me.”
Since coming to NASCAR, Patrick had a best finish of sixth at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014. She posted six other top-10 finishes throughout her 189-race career, including a season-high 10th at Dover International Speedway this season.
Though announcing she will run the pair of races, Patrick could not specify what teams she will compete with.
“We’re down the line with different facets of moving forward but nothing is final yet,” Patrick said of what teams she may compete for. “Hopefully it will be soon. Things are definitely not set.”
Despite an up and down career and a best finish of 24th in the championship standings (2015 and 2016), Patrick wants to be remembered as a solid driver. In five full seasons, she has one career pole, coming in her rookie campaign at the Daytona 500.
“What I’ve always wanted is to just be remembered as a great driver, then remembered as a girl,” she said. “I don’t care if your remember me as a girl. Of course I am, it’s obvious. But to be remembered as a great driver. That’s it.”