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Danica Patrick on retiring from NASCAR: ‘I felt like it wasn’t a space I wanted to be in anymore’

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Danica Patrick was unhappy much of her final season in NASCAR.

Patrick revealed that and a lot more in this past week’s Joe Rogan Experience podcast.

When asked how she felt during the 2017 season, Patrick admitted she was disillusioned at times.

“A lot of negativity to some degree, and it feels like a grind a little bit,” she told Rogan. “I felt like it wasn’t a space I wanted to be in anymore.

“I wanted to be in a happy space, doing things that bring me joy. I was noticing I was missing that – or wanting it more.”

That’s why Patrick decided early on that 2017 would be her final full season in racing.

The timing actually couldn’t have been better: her contract would not be renewed for 2018 by Stewart Haas Racing, she lost her primary sponsorship early in the 2017 season and the remaining sponsorship on her No. 10 Ford Fusion ran out at season’s end and there weren’t many other opportunities to remain in the sport.

If there ever was a time for Patrick to go in another direction and try something else, 2018 would be that time.

“It’s just life; just do things that make you happy,” she told Rogan.

So Patrick has begun building a new life. Sure, she still plans on competing in next month’s Daytona 500 and in May’s Indianapolis 500 – she’s calling it the “Danica Double” – she’s also begun creating a new life after and beyond racing.

She’s building upon herself as a brand rather than just a race car driver. She’s moving in a direction that, with the exception of Daytona and Indy, she’ll not be involved in racing for the first time in more than 25 years.

“Those are going to be my last two races ever,” Patrick said. “This is my Danica Double goodbye tour. I’m ready. I love racing but I love other things, too.

“I’m okay with transitioning out and there were a lot of things that were kind of pointing me in this direction in 2017, stuff that had never happened to me before to kind of, yeah, head towards the exit a little bit. But I’m good with it. I’m a very decisive person.

“This was one of them that I thought about a little bit how to be done or if to be done, I guess, but the how was the hardest part. My agent kept calling and asking me ‘what about this or what if you did that’ and I said no, no and no. You all have to be ready for me to be done, please.”

Patrick’s racing career began before she was 10 years old – she already was thinking at that age about going to college to become an engineer “so I could work on my race car.”

She began racing go-karts growing up in Roscoe, Illinois (about 2 hours from Chicago) and by 16 she was racing Formula cars in Europe.

So after nearly 25 years of racing, it’s time to move on – and Patrick is ready.

“In the last year, as far as an energetic space, it’s just so sad and negative a lot of the time,” she said. “Racing in general, most of the time it’s miserable. You have some days that are good, but most of time it’s not happy.

“You’re not satisfied, you wish somebody would have treated you better out there, there’s so many things to be negative about, and just the grind of it.

“Everybody is worn out. You have to be really careful about the people around you, everybody has to be in a good mood not to spiral out of control, because you see each other three, four days every week for 40 weeks of the year, so you’ve got to be in a good space with people.”

During her time in both IndyCar and NASCAR, Patrick became the face of and inspiration for female racers in all forms of motorsports over the past decade-plus.

She has given all of herself to racing on four wheels, be it in an open-wheel Indy car or a NASCAR stock car. Racing was all she wanted to do for so very long.

Heck, she has a tattoo on her back that starts out as an American flag and fades into a checkered flag. If that isn’t an example of a true bad-ass racer, what is?

Yet not having the success she hoped for and even expected in NASCAR left her becoming somewhat jaded, feeling like she was going in circles both literally and figuratively.

Still, her decision to retire from full-time racing at the age of 35 – she turns 36 on March 25 – caught some by surprise.

“I think everyone would expect with what I do, at the level I do it, that racing is the only thing I do, I love it so much I’ll do anything, I’ll drive every day – and the truth is, no,” Patrick said. “I like racing, but there’s a lot of things I don’t like about it, too.

“I’m grateful for everything it’s given me, but if you were to ask me what I do outside of racing, I don’t go to the racetrack, I don’t watch races.”

And after the upcoming Daytona 500 on Feb. 18 and Indianapolis 500 on May 27, she’ll permanently not go to the racetrack or watch races, it would appear.

Now it’s on to a life as enhancing and expanding her personal brand, transitioning from being a race car driver to making and selling wine, designing and marketing clothes, writing books and so much more.

Click here to listen to the two-hour audio version of Patrick’s appearance on Rogan’s podcast.

Or, watch the whole interview on YouTube:

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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Chip Ganassi meets with Danica Patrick about ‘fabulous opportunity’ to run Daytona and Indianapolis

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HOMESTEAD, Fla. – Chip Ganassi confirmed Friday he met with Danica Patrick and her representatives the past two days about running the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 next season.

The car owner in NASCAR and IndyCar heartily endorses the concept announced Friday by Patrick, who plans to end her career after those two races, but Ganassi said negotiations weren’t far along.

“I think it’s a great idea for her to do that,” Ganassi told a small group of reporters after Cup qualifying at Homestead-Miami Speedway. “I think it’s a fabulous idea. I think it’s a fabulous marketing idea. It’s a fabulous opportunity.

“Obviously the business side of the deal has to work. I just learned about all this yesterday. That’s what has to be worked out. I’m a long way from saying, ‘Yes, I can do that.’”

Ganassi said Patrick’s team indicated it would be an option for her to do one or both races with his team. Asked by NBC Sports during her Friday news conference if she wanted to run both races with one team, Patrick said “that’s an option I suppose, but it doesn’t have to be.

“I think that when we’re talking about Daytona, it is what it is. There’s a lot of luck involved. To some degree, that doesn’t seem as critical. In IndyCar I think that it’s a little more, but I think there are probably a little bit more options as well. A little bit more flexibility there. I think it would make it easier, but I don’t think that it’s an absolute necessary.”

Ganassi and Roger Penske would be Patrick’s only options for running championship-caliber cars in both races with one team.

Penske wasn’t available for comment at Homestead-Miami Speedway most of Friday, but a Team Penske representative indicated the team hadn’t discussed the possibility with Patrick.

Would a one-team approach be the best option for running the two biggest races in the United States in the same season?

“That’s for her to decide,” Ganassi said. “I don’t know. I’m not the one doing it, she is. I would think it would be better to do it with one team.”

Because Chip Ganassi Racing and Team Penske don’t field the maximum allowable cars in Cup, they also would offer an option at Daytona that the four-car teams of Hendrick Motorsports, Stewart-Haas Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing can’t (NASCAR rules preclude teams entering five cars, even for a one-off situation).

Ganassi deflected questions about whether Patrick would bring sponsorship (“I don’t talk about that kind of stuff and who brings what”) or if he would have the same crew if Patrick ran both races for his team. He also didn’t have a deadline for deciding on Daytona, which is three months away.

“That’s a good question,” he said. “Like I said, I just learned about all this yesterday and today.”

But he is interested?

“I need to know more to be interested,” he said. “I need to know more. I need to talk to my people. There’s a lot of moving parts on a deal like that.”

There would be even more logistics if Ganassi attempted to also field an Indy 500 entry in 2018 for Cup star Kyle Larson, who has said he wants to run the Brickyard in May and become the latest to attempt the NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader with the Coca-Cola 600.

“I haven’t even talked to him about it,” Ganassi said when asked about Larson running the Indianapolis 500 next year.

Ganassi’s IndyCar team is downsizing from four full-time entries to two next year. He wouldn’t rule out running Larson and Patrick at Indy next year but also added “I doubt I would do four (cars)” in the 102nd running of the race.

Marco Andretti interested in possible Xfinity race with JR Motorsports

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It’s been seven years since a member of the Andretti family competed in a NASCAR race.

Marco Andretti has again indicated he’s interested in giving stock car racing a try.

The son of Michael Andretti, the IndyCar veteran said on Twitter Thursday he’s had conversations with Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kelley Earnhardt Miller, co-owners of JR Motorsports, about “maybe” competing in an Xfinity race.

Andretti was answering a fan question about a potential ride in NASCAR.

In April, the 30-year-old driver said he’d talked with Stewart-Haas Racing owner Tony Stewart about dipping his toes into NASCAR

“I don’t think I should jump right to Cup,” Andretti told the AP. “I think there’s probably some Xfinity stuff that could be a possibility. ‘Smoke’ hates restrictor plate races to begin with, so he’s not very high on me wanting to do it. But I think if we could put something together it would be fun.”

The topic was raised after SHR driver Kurt Busch, who drove for Andretti Autosport in the 2014 Indianapolis 500, said he wanted to see Andretti race in the Daytona 500.

“I think that would be a huge event for him, for our sport,” Busch said. “I think Marco would do real well at a Daytona-style track because he loves the draft and he loves to be around other cars. That’s what I would think would work the best.”

Andretti recently finished his 12th season in IndyCar. He has two wins in 200 starts.

If he were to show up on a Xfinity starting grid, he’d be the first Andretti in NASCAR since his cousin John Andretti competed in the 2010 Daytona 500.

A winner of the 1997 Pepsi 400 at Daytona, John Andretti earned two wins in 393 Cup starts beginning in 1993 and made 37 Xfinity starts.

But the Andretti name in NASCAR goes back to Marco’s grandfather, Mario Andretti.

The elder Andretti made 14 Cup starts from 1966-69. His lone win came in the 1967 Daytona 500. Two years later he earned the Andretti family’s only victory in the Indianapolis 500.