BY BRENDAN MARKS
There was long been speculation regarding Danica Patrick’s future at Stewart-Haas Racing, but finally there was some clarity on Tuesday.
Patrick, who has been with the team for the past six seasons, announced via Facebook that she would not continue driving for the team in 2018.
“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 an announcement.
“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.”
Patrick, 35, struggled this NASCAR season, finishing 28th in points, which tied for the worst season in her six-year career in the Cup Series.
She had one Top 10 finish at Dover in June, but she ended the year with five consecutive finishes outside of the Top 20.
Patrick’s contract with Stewart-Haas was up at the end of this season, and sponsorship issues — her scheduled sponsor, Nature’s Bakery, has been in dispute with the team all season — have been a concern throughout the year.
Grateful for sponsors
“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,” Patrick said via her statement.
“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.”
Patrick told Yahoo Sports a day before her announcement that she was unsure of what her future held.
Only two Stewart-Haas drivers — Kevin Harvick (6th) and Kurt Busch (12th) — qualified for the playoffs this year. Patrick and Clint Bowyer, who finished 17th, both failed to qualify.