It appears Danica Patrick won’t race for Chip Ganassi Racing in the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500 next year.
Talks have stalled between Ganassi and Patrick, according to Kickin’ The Tires.
During the NASCAR championship weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway, team owner Chip Ganassi said having Patrick compete with the team for Daytona and Indy would be a “fabulous idea,” but acknowledged it would take a lot of effort and money to make the deal come to fruition.
“I’m a long way from saying I can do it,” Ganassi said last month. “They were talking about one (either Daytona or Indy) or both. … I need to know more. I need to talk to my people. There are a lot of moving parts.”
Patrick can’t run the Daytona 500 with her former team Stewart-Haas Racing because NASCAR’s charter agreement allows organizations to field a maximum of four cars, which the team already has.
Ganassi seemed like the proper fit for Patrick since the team only has two full-time entries in the NASCAR Cup Series, and it was highly competitive through 2017. Richard Childress Racing was also rumored to field Patrick, but those talks have stagnated. RCR’s No. 27 is in flux — which may leave the team no choice but to sell or lease out its charter if it can’t find a replacement for the departing Paul Menard.
Team Penske, which competes in both the Cup Series and IndyCar Series, doesn’t plan to field an additional entry for Patrick either. The team has four entries for Indy in place, and the team is expanding its Cup program to three full-time cars, so it’s unlikely it’ll enter a fourth for a one-race deal.
Patrick will presumably not settle for a non-competitive car, so her choices are scarce in NASCAR. Her best options would probably be single-car organizations such as RCR, Richard Petty Motorsports or Furniture Row Racing.
With Penske and Ganassi ruled out for her Indy 500 run, her best bets are likely on Andretti Autosport or Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing. She competed with both teams during her IndyCar tenure, and both are capable of fielding winning cars at Indy.
Andretti currently plans to enter five cars for the next Indy 500, but adding a sixth isn’t out of the realm. There were six entries in the most recent running, which was won by Takuma Sato in the No. 26 Honda for Andretti Autosport.
RLL Racing will become a two-car team in 2018 with Graham Rahal and Sato. In recent years, the team has entered an additional car for Oriol Servia, but it appears that won’t happen again. If Patrick brings enough funding to the table, she could run with the team that gave her IndyCar tenure its start in the first place.
What a way it would be to conclude her racing career.