Danica Patrick jokes, ‘It almost felt like I died’ in positive reaction to Stewart-Haas departure (video)

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Danica Patrick, who announced five days ago she would not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, spoke with NBCSN’s Dave Burns (video above) prior to Sunday’s Cup race at Chicagoland Speedway, which is Patrick’s home track.

The driver of the No. 10 Ford addressed the response she got from the news that she was leaving the team.

“I’ve obviously had the indication for a while about what the situation would be,” Patrick told Burns. “I think what I felt the most is that there was an overwhelming amount of positivity and nice things said, but it almost felt like I died! I died, or it was like a for sure goodbye.

“You know, that’s just not necessarily the case. Yes, it might be over, but it might not be as well. As I’ve said for the last year or two, I’m not out here to fill the field. I’m out here to win, to be competitive and have fun. Running 20th to 25th is not fun. So if I feel I don’t have the chance to be in better position than that, then I’m OK with it.”

Patrick has driven the No. 10 full time for five seasons, earning seven top 10s and winning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500.

Today’s Cup race is the start of her final 10 races with SHR.

NASCAR America analyst Kyle Petty said he would be “forever grateful” for Patrick’s contributions to the sport.

“The potential is unlimited for her,” Petty said. “She is, if not the best, one of the best that’s ever come through this garage gate as far as marketing herself and taking the sport along with it. She moved the needle in this sport. And I know in the beginning I took a lot of heat for things I said, but I appreciate everything she’s done for this sport.”

Watch the above video for the full interview and more from Kyle Petty and Dale Jarrett.

BRANDT returns for third year with JR Motorsports in Xfinity Series

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BRANDT Professional Agriculture will return as a sponsor for JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series, the team announced Wednesday.

The company will be a primary sponsor of Justin Allgaier‘s No. 7 Chevrolet in 19 races and an associate sponsor of Allgaier and his three teammates the rest of the season.

Brandt has sponsored Allgaier for eight years, including the last three with JR Motorsports.

Allgaier is a native of Riverton, Illinois, which is 15 miles from Springfield, Illinois, where the company is headquartered.

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Allgaier, 31, is coming off his second season that ended with him in the Championship 4. He earned two wins, 10 top five and 17 top-10 finishes. He also led a series-high 495 laps among Xfinity regulars.

He will be teammates with Elliott Sadler, Tyler Reddick and Michael Annett this year.

The Xfinity season begins Feb. 17 at Daytona International Speedway.

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NASCAR revamps Rookie of the Year points system in national series

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NASCAR has changed how it determines the Rookie of the Year in all three national series, it announced Thursday.

The new system, which will debut in a month at Daytona International Speedway, reflects the points system that decides the champion in each series, including the stage format in races.

A race win will earn a rookie candidate 40 points and five playoff points. A second-place finish will is worth 35 points and a third-place finish is 34 points, etc.

A rookie candidate who wins a stage will earn 10 points and one playoff point.

“The focus on our rising stars has never been stronger and simplifying the Sunoco Rookie of the Year system made perfect sense,” said Jim Cassidy, NASCAR’s senior vice president of racing operations in a press release. “Our fans track closely the progress of our young drivers and matching the Sunoco Rookie of the Year points structure with the championship points will help them follow this prestigious program and award more closely than ever before.”

Erik Jones was Rookie of the Year in the Cup Series last year. William Byron won the honor in the Xfinity Series and Chase Briscoe won it in the Camping World Truck Series.

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Watkins Glen, Michigan announce multi-year sponsor deals

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Watkins Glen International and Michigan International Speedway announced multi-year sponsorship deals for their Cup Series races Thursday.

WGI announced the Aug. 5 race at the road course will be sponsored by GoBowling.com. The 90-lap race will be called “Go Bowling at the Glen.”

This is not the first time the bowling brand has sponsored a Cup event. It sponsored the spring race at Kansas Speedway from 2016-17 and the August event at Pocono Raceway from 2013-14.

As part of the deal, Go Bowling will have two bowling lanes at the track for the race weekend.

Michigan has renewed its sponsorship deal with FireKeepers Casino Hotel for its June Cup race for “many years.”

The hotel in Battle Creek, Michigan, began its relationship with MIS by sponsoring pole day in 2014. It began sponsoring the June race in 2016.

TheFireKeepers Casino 400 is scheduled for June 10.

ISM Raceway (Phoenix) also announced the title sponsor for its March 11 Cup race.

The event will called the TicketGuardian 500.

TicketGuardian is a mobile ticketing insurance provider. When fans purchase tickets to events at ISM Raceway, they will be given the option to add TicketGuardian’s ticket protection coverage. This allows fans to have insurance on the tickets they’ve purchased in advance.

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Hendrick, Kelley Blue Book extend relationship through 2020

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Hendrick Motorsports and Kelley Blue Book have extended their sponsorship deal three years through 2020, the team announced Thursday.

The car pricing, research and valuation guide will be a primary sponsor on Chase Elliott‘s N0. 9 Chevrolet in two races each year.

This season it will be on the No. 9 for the Aug. 18 race at Bristol Motor Speedway and the November playoff race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Kelley Blue Book has been partnered with Hendrick since 2014 when it had a one-race deal to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr.

It went to a two-race deal beginning in 2016.

MORE: Driving the No. 9 feels like going home for Chase Elliott

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