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Danica Patrick has Daytona 500, Indy 500 sponsor; now needs ride

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GoDaddy will return to be Danica Patrick‘s sponsor for the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500, the company announced Thursday.

Patrick said in November that she would retire from racing after competing in those two events. She has yet to secure a ride for either race but that was slowed by the lack of sponsorship until Thursday’s announcement.

A Chip Ganassi Racing executive said last week that the team was no longer in discussions with Patrick for her to drive for the team in either race. Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that the team would stay focused on its current operations instead of adding another car for those races: “We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”

Ed Carpenter, who owns Ed Carpenter Racing, confirmed to the Indianapolis Star last week he’s had discussions with Patrick but that “it has to be a deal that is beneficial to both parties.”

MORE: Danica Patrick confirms she is dating NFL quarterback

GoDaddy signed Patrick in 2006 when she was in IndyCar and followed her to NASCAR, ending its sponsorship after the 2015 season. While together, Patrick was the face of the company, appearing in 13 GoDaddy Super Bowl ads – the most Super Bowl commercial appearances by a celebrity.

“You could say, ‘we’re getting the band back together,” said GoDaddy Chief Marketing Officer Barb Rechterman. “It makes sense in that our goals are so well-aligned – she’s passionate, tenacious and creative just like so many of our customers who are also looking to leverage the power of the Internet and turn their ‘side hustle’ into a full-time business. Danica absolutely epitomizes the heart of our GoDaddy customers. We love it.”

Said Patrick in a statement: “This is definitely the way I want to finish my racing career – at these two iconic races, backed by my iconic, long-time sponsor. GoDaddy was there for me when my career was just really starting so it’s exciting to be getting back in the GoDaddy ‘green’ for my final two races. Our brands have always been powerful together, and I think it’s awesome to have them at my side when I go ‘all in’ with my businesses after racing.”

Patrick has made six starts in the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the 2013 race. She finished eighth that year, her best finish in the season-opening Cup race. She finished fourth in last year’s Advance Auto Parts Clash. She is eligible for that race this year. Patrick has made seven starts in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-best fourth in her first race there, leading 19 laps. She has two top-five and five top-10 finishes in the Indy 500.

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Chip Ganassi Racing not talking to Danica Patrick about Daytona 500, Indy 500 ride

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An executive from Chip Ganassi Racing said Thursday night that the team no longer is in discussions with Danica Patrick to have her drive for the team in either the Daytona 500 or Indianapolis 500.

Steve Lauletta, president of Chip Ganassi Racing, made the comments on Sirius XM NASCAR Radio’s “Dialed In’’ show.

“We’re not talking any longer,’’ Lauletta said. “I think it would have made sense, and we did have conversations if she wanted to run in both races, the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, and ultimately we couldn’t come to a solution that worked for both of us.

“We’re going to stay focused on the task at hand … getting (Jamie McMurray) and (Kyle Larson) in Cup and the 42 in Xfinity into Victory Lane as much as we can with the hopes of winning a couple of championships. The same on our IndyCar program. We have got two cars that were testing yesterday in Sebring. We’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to, so I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.’’

Patrick announced in November that she planned to finish her driving career by racing in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 this year. Ganassi was viewed as one of Patrick’s best options to compete in both races since it competes in both NASCAR and IndyCar. She said earlier this month on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio that finding a ride for both races is “taking longer than I’d like it to take, I’ll be really honest.’’

Asked if he thought Patrick would end up with a ride, Lauletta told SiriusXM NASCAR Radio:

“Ultimately I think she will. She has been fairly successful in some of the races that she’s run at that place. She knows her way around. There are teams that run just the Indianapolis 500 because of the size of the event itself and the history of it. I think that they’ll be able to put something together and certainly wish them luck. I think it would be great for the sport of IndyCar racing to have her come back and run the Indianapolis 500 from an exposure standpoint and people wanting to tune in, and hopefully it will be to see (Ganassi drivers) Scott Dixon or Ed Jones win it while she’s running around behind us.’’

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Danica Patrick: Finding rides for Daytona, Indy 500 ‘taking longer than I’d like’

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Danica Patrick says the search for rides in the Feb. 18 Daytona 500 and May 28 Indianapolis 500 is “taking longer than I’d like it to take.”

Patrick, the former Stewart-Haas Racing driver, announced in November prior to the Cup Series finale in Miami that she would retire from auto racing after competing in the two races. Patrick spent the last five years driving for SHR in NASCAR.

In an interview Thursday with SiriusXM NASCAR Radio’s “The Morning Drive” promoting her new book, “Pretty Intense,” Patrick discussed the struggle to find teams to partner with for the two races this year.

“It’s taking longer than I’d like it to take, I’ll be really honest with you,” Patrick said. “I thought it was going to be a quicker process. You can’t rush things. I’m a big believer, more and more all the time of letting things flow and letting things take shape in the way that they would. That’s kind of why I ended where I ended with finishing up (my) full-time career last year and doing the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 for this year.

“I didn’t push anything and I let things flow and it turned out to be just perfect. Honestly, I’m excited and just so grateful.”

Patrick, 35,  has made six starts in the Daytona 500 and won the pole for the 2013 race, the first woman to do so. She competed in IndyCar from 2005-2011. In seven starts in the Indianapolis 500, her best result was third in 2009.

“Everything I do outside of racing is because of racing,” Patrick said. “I’m well aware of that and I’m so fortunate that I get to go into these other ventures and have a platform to do it. But I am excited about them. I’m so glad with the way it all ended up working out.

“Similarly with the teams I’m going to race for, or the team, in NASCAR and in IndyCar. I’m pushing politely but you can’t make things happen before they’re ready to happen. I kind of thought it would get more simple. There’s less people involved, less sponsors, less things. Well, it’s still complicated. It’s just taking a little bit of time. Hopefully we’ll have something to announce soon enough.”

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Danica Patrick says this will be last full-time season as a driver

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HOMESTEAD, Florida — In an emotional press conference where she struggled to keep from crying, Danica Patrick said this will be her final full-time season as a driver.

After uttering that phrase, Patrick repeatedly stopped to wipe her eyes and cry.

“But I’m not totally done,” she said Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway in a press conference that included her family, sister and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse in attendance. “I’m going to do the Daytona 500 next year and the Indy 500. I’m really excited about that. I think it’s going to be a great way to cap it off.’’

Patrick did not announce the teams that she’ll drive for in both races next year.

“We’re down the line with difference facets in moving forward, but nothing is final yet but hopefully it will be soon,” she said of the teams.

Patrick announced Sept. 12 that she was out at Stewart-Haas Racing after this season. Patrick, 35, didn’t have sponsorship and the team will replace her with Aric Almirola next season. Patrick, who is 27th in the points entering Sunday’s seasone finale, has been with Stewart-Haas Racing since 2013. No female has run as many races as her in NASCAR’s history. Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway will be Patrick’s 190th career Cup start.

“She is a very talented race car driver,’’ car owner Tony Stewart said on the NBC Monday Morning Donuts podcast Sept. 20. “She has the ability to do what probably 95 percent of the drivers in the field don’t have the ability to do. She can stay in NASCAR if she wants. She can go back to IndyCar. She can go sports car racing. She’s very versatile. I want her to do what she’s passionate about and what feels good to her.’’

Danica Patrick after winning the pole for the Daytona 500  on February 17, 2013. (Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)

Daytona International Speedway has been the site of some of Patrick’s top career NASCAR highlights.

Patrick made her NASCAR debut in the 2010 Xfinity race at Daytona. Her first career Cup start came in the 2012 Daytona 500. She won her lone Cup pole in 2013 for the Daytona 500. She finished eighth in that race, her best finish in that event.

Patrick drove in the Indianapolis 500 from 2005-11. She finished a career-high fourth in 2005 and placed in the top 10 in six of her seven starts in that race.

“I never thought I would do it (again),” Patrick said of the Indianapolis 500. “I really didn’t. I always thought in my head never, but I never said never because I know better and thank God because here I am. It was really a conversation with my agent Alan (Zucker) … we ran through so many different ideas, different teams, different scenarios, just do these races, just do this race. I have been much more in the flow with it. I have not poked or prodded and asked many questions. I wanted this to unfold naturally and what was going to be was going to be.

Danica Patrick in the Indianapolis 500 on May 11, 2005. (Photo by Donald Miralle/Getty Images)

“As I said to many of you years ago, if it’s not going to get better I don’t want to do it because it’s not fun. Here I am. It’s not fun. My urgency to push to keep doing everything was just not really there. So if something that wasn’t really enticing didn’t come up, I wasn’t going to push for something else.

“He called and just said ‘What about finishing up at Daytona? I don’t know where it came from but then out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’ I don’t even know why I said it necessarily. It was really sort of the first idea that got me really excited. That was it.

“It just came from my heart. I think it’s going to be awesome.”

Although Patrick has not competed in IndyCar since 2011, there are signs that with the right team she could do well in next year’s race.

Formula One driver Fernando Alonso started fifth and led 27 laps before a mechanical issue sidelined him in this year’s race, the first time he had driven in that series. Kurt Busch placed sixth in 2014 when he competed in the race for the first time. Both Alonso and Busch won Rookie of the Year.

Even so, Patrick admits there will be challenges.

“I think it will take a little bit of adjusting,” she said. “It’s different for sure, but I don’t feel that today I’m a worse driver than I was when I drove IndyCars. I’m essentially a better driver. It will take a little bit of acclimating. We’ll cross that bridge once we get a little bit closer. I would like to get in a car before Indy.

“I definitely have like a level of fear and nervousness about it, just a little bit, because it’s been so long, but I believe I will catch on and remember quickly.”

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Move to Team Penske may help Ryan Blaney’s goal of racing in Indy 500

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Answering a question from a fan, Ryan Blaney admitted on Team Penske’s Facebook Live broadcast Wednesday morning that one of his racing goals is to one day drive in the Indianapolis 500.

“I would like to do that sometime in the future,” Blaney said. “That’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”

In other words, Blaney wants to run the “double” — racing in the Indy 500 and Coca-Cola 600 in the same day.

“It’s obviously two great races in the same day and obviously challenging for a driver,” Blaney said. “It’s the most challenging day you can have, running 1,100 miles, not counting the flight back from Indiana to North Carolina.

“All the back and forth you go from testing for the 500, because they’re testing there for three weeks, and just going back and forth between the two different cars.

“They’re completely different, drive way different and that would be really tough to go back and forth.”

Blaney then added with a smile, “But maybe since I’m a Penske driver now, I can convince Mr. Penske to let me do it. That would be really neat, but maybe I have to win some races for him first and then maybe he’ll let me go over and do that.”

Blaney, 23, made major news Wednesday when it was announced he’ll leave Wood Brothers Racing at the end of this season and will pilot a third NASCAR Cup car – the No. 12 Ford Fusion – for Team Penske starting next season.

In a subsequent teleconference that included Blaney and Team Penske president Tim Cindric, Blaney’s Indy 500 goal caught Cindric a bit off-guard.

“I got to tune into this Facebook stuff,” Cindric laughed. “I got to get connected because I missed that one.”

Blaney admitted that he’s mentioned his interest the 500, but that’s about it.

“It’s gotten as far down the road as me talking about it,” he said. “That’s as far as it’s gotten.”

To which Cindric replied, saying with another laugh, “Hasn’t got to my room yet, but he’s got a lot of years left.”

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