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NASCAR Cup: 2017 may be the end of the road for Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

Danica Patrick (photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR)

By AMANDA VINCENT

The 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season may be the last for Danica Patrick at Stewart-Haas Racing, and it may be her last in Cup Series racing altogether. And judging by comments she made last weekend, at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, prior to the Aug. 6 running of the I Love New York 355 at The Glen, she’s okay with that.

“I’m getting old and zen,” Patrick told USA Today. “And I’ve also said, too, for the last year or two, but for sure the last year, that I don’t have fun running 245h. And I know it’s been getting better lately, and there’s been a lot of the year we should have been in the top-15 a lot. So, unless I feel like I’m going to be in a scenario where that’s the case, then I just don’t car. I’d just rather not. I have a lot of great things going on. I have a lot of amazing opportunities out there. Life is too short to be miserable. Like, half of the zen is, you know what? Unless I feel like I have a chance to go out there and be very competitive and have a chance to win and run in the top-15 or 10 every week, then, I have no interest in going out there and just participating and never have.”

The other things Patrick has going on include a book, a wine and a clothing line sold through a home-shopping TV channel.

Patrick has a year remaining on her contract with Stewart-Haas Racing to drive the No. 10 Ford in the Cup Series, but multiple reports have had SHR trying to negotiate its way out of the final year, as sponsorship looks to be drying up for the once marketing darling.

Patrick came into the sport well-funded by GoDaddy, and when that sponsorship went away, it wasn’t long before Nature’s Bakery was onboard. But a dispute that led to the snack-food company and SHR filing dueling lawsuits has Nature’s Bakery’s time on the hood of Patrick’s car decreased significantly this year and gone by next year. A replacement sponsor has not been found.

Patrick had high expectations when she entered NASCAR and got off to a roaring start in her full-time Cup Series career by winning the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2013 and finishing that race in the top-10. It was her only top-10 of the season. That top-10 was one of only seven top-10s, to date. She has yet to post a top-five finish, even though 2017 his her fifth full-time season in the series.

Results have improved recently, though. She finished in the top-15 in four-consecutive races, prior to Sunday’s 22nd-place finish at Watkins Glen. That four-race stretch marked the first time in Patrick’s Cup Series career that she had posted consecutive race finishes inside the top-15. But it may be too little, too late.

Stewart-Haas Racing recently declined to pick up the option on Patrick’s teammate Kurt Busch’s contract. But the team has expressed interest in keeping Busch around by negotiating a new contract with the former Cup Series champion. SHR’s Joe Custer said the team plans to continue to field four cars next season. The team also fields entries for Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer.

Patrick said at Watkins Glen that she’d consider driving for another team if Stewart-Haas Racing isn’t an option for her next year, but she wasn’t open to taking a part-time ride. Meanwhile, available seats in competitive cars are filling up, primarily by younger up-and-coming drivers.

Follow Auto Racing Daily on Twitter @AutoRacingDaily or like Auto Racing Daily on Facebook (Facebook.com/autorcngdaily). Amanda’s also on Twitter @NASCARexaminer and has a fan/like page on Facebook (Facebook.com/nascarexaminer)

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Posted by on August 10, 2017. Filed under Breaking News,Featured,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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