Danica Patrick says she is out at Stewart-Haas Racing after this season

8 Comments

Danica Patrick says she will not drive for Stewart-Haas Racing after this season, telling fans in a note on her Facebook page: “My time driving for them … has come to an end due to a new sponsorship arrangement in 2018.”

She did not reveal what her plans for next season would be.

Stewart-Haas Racing announced Tuesday morning that Smithfield would join the team as a sponsor in 2018 and that a driver who will be added to the team would be announced at a later date.

Patrick, who is in her fifth full-time season with Stewart-Haas Racing, had said that her future with the team was dependent on sponsorship.

Patrick’s message on her Facebook page to fans:

“It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons. 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.

“I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. 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.”

In a recent appearance on the NASCAR on NBC podcast, Patrick told Nate Ryan that she was not worrying about her uncertain future.

“I just don’t feel the weight of anything anymore,” Patrick, 35, said.  I just don’t feel angry about anything. It’s just gone. There are plenty of things I look back and think, ‘That sucked, but you know what? I’m going to go on’.”

Patrick’s future grew cloudy in January when sponsor Nature’s Bakery sought to end its three-year agreement with the team with two years left. Stewart-Haas Racing filed a  $31 million lawsuit against Nature’s Bakery on Feb. 3. The two sides reached a settlement on May 26 with Nature’s Bakery serving as a sponsor for four races this season. The company was to have the primary sponsor for Patrick’s car in 28 races this season.

Patrick made her Cup debut in the 2012 Daytona 500. She was the first female to race in NASCAR’s premier series since Shawna Robinson last raced in 2002.

Patrick’s 180 career Cup starts heading into Sunday’s race at Chicagoland Speedway (3 p.m. ET,  NBCSN) is more than twice the number of Cup starts from all other female drivers combined. The 15 other female drivers listed in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series media guide combined to make 78 starts, led by Janet Guthrie’s 33 starts from 1976-80.

Patrick’s best career finish in Cup is sixth in 2014 at Atlanta. She ranks 28th in the points this season with a best finish of 10th at Dover in June.

Patrick becomes the latest driver who has not announced a ride for 2018, joining Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.

She said Aug. 15 that she would like to continue racing “if I have an opportunity to do well.” She also said she would drive only in the Cup Series.

Patrick’s interest outside of racing have flourished. Her first book (Pretty Intense”) will be released in January and she has made plans for a sequel. She has opened a Napa Valley vineyard. She has launched her “Warrior” athleisure clothing line, which sponsored her car last weekend at Richmond Raceway.

But Patrick said in the NASCAR on NBC podcast that doesn’t mean she’s ready to leave NASCAR.

“They are not an escape plan, they are not a backup plan, they are purely extensions of things I already do,” she said. “They really are. What I love about racing is the art of it. I love the challenge, the journey. I love the work involved between a group of people to find success. Whether it be through my communication about how the car feels, then you make changes, and it gets better.”

 and on Facebook

 

NASCAR America: Erik Jones on why he doesn’t make friends with his competitors

Leave a comment

Back in April Erik Jones told reporters at Daytona International Speedway that when it comes to friends, he brings his to the track. He doesn’t get too close to his fellow drivers in the garage.

On NASCAR America, Jones talked with Steve Letarte and Dale Jarrett about the origins of that mindset.

“My dad was always big on it, because at first when I started out my racing career in go karts I just wasn’t that aggressive,” Jones said. “He was like, ‘we bring our friends to the race track. You need to go out there and get aggressive. If you’ve to move someone out-of-the-way, do it.'”

Since then, Jones said his philosophy “never changed.”

“We show up, it’s a late-model team, it’s me a three guys so it’s like, ‘I’ve got all my buddies I need right here,'” Jones said.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones’ racing roots in Byron, Michigan

Leave a comment

After a feature looking at his upbringing in Byron, Michigan, Furniture Row Racing driver Erik Jones spoke with NASCAR America’s Steve Letarte, Dale Jarrett and Marty Snider about the early years of his racing career.

The journey to his NASCAR career began with a yard cart that his late father, Dave Jones, brought home one day when he was 3.

“I rode that all day long around the yard,” Jones said. “Winter time would and we had like a gravel circle driveway in front of our house. When it would snow over I would get the kart out and ride it around in the snow because I could slide and I thought that was pretty cool. I would get it stuck about every five minutes out in the snow.”

Jones would then get out of the kart and find his dad in their barn to come out get him out.

Now 21, Jones also discussed how much his dad was involved in his career until his death in June 2016 after a battle with cancer.

He also explains how he’s never stayed in any series for more than one year in his career.

Watch the video above for the full discussion.

NASCAR America: Scan All from Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland

Leave a comment

“I sure as (expletive) hope that’s all out of our system.”

That’s what Kyle Busch had to say over his radio after he finished 15th, a lap down in the Cup playoff opener at Chicagoland Speedway.

Busch’s day went south after the first stage thanks to two pit miscues the sent him two laps down.

Meanwhile, Martin Truex Jr. dominate the field to win his fifth race of the year and advance to the second round of the playoffs.

In the latest “Scan All,” True and crew chief Cole Pearn recap their day, which saw them bounce back from their own pit road mistakes.

Here are other highlights from this week’s “Scan All.”

  • “Can’t drive in a straight line. Something’s not right with the front end.” – Ricky Stenhouse Jr. just before he made contact with the outside wall. A commitment line violation resulted in Stenhouse finish multiple laps off the lead.
  • “Tell the 1 (Jamie McMurray) I don’t know what happened there but we both got the short end of the stick.” – Ryan Newman after contact between him and McMurray sent McMurray spinning on a restart.
  • (Expletive), that 24 (Chase Elliott) can be so much (expletive) faster than us.” – Kasey Kahne after being told he was two laps down.

Watch the above video for more.

NASCAR America: Erik Jones recounts rookie Cup season, being taught by Kyle Busch

Leave a comment

Erik Jones, the rookie driver for Furniture Row Racing in the No. 77 Toyota, joined NASCAR America Wednesday for a special show from the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

The 21-year-old driver won the 2015 Camping World Truck Series title and is teammates with Martin Truex Jr.

With Marty Snider, Dale Jarrett and Steve Letarte, Jones discussed the challenges and lessons he’s faced in his first full-time season in the Cup Series.

“The biggest (milestones) for me were trying to win a race and making the playoffs,” Jones said. “Obviously, making the playoffs didn’t happen. … I look back at the last few seasons and rookies that have been in the sport and it’s so hard to win races now. You just don’t see rookies do it a lot.”

Jones also discussed finishing second to Kyle Busch in the Bristol night race and his relationship with the driver who brought him into NASCAR beginning with the Truck Series.

“A lot of times when I was racing in Trucks and Xfinity and Kyle would come to race I’d always run second to him,” Jones said. “I’m like, ‘you know what the problem is? This is the guy who taught me how to race these cars. So I’m good at all the same tracks he’s good at. Except he’s been doing about 10 more years than I have.”

Watch the video for more.