For Danica Patrick, her NASCAR career is all “about having fun.”
But eight races into the 2017 season, there’s not a lot to be had with Stewart-Haas Racing’s No. 10 team.
Patrick, in her fifth full-time season in the Cup Series, is 30th in the points standings. That puts her behind Michael McDowell and Cole Whitt. A DNF last Monday at Bristol Motor Speedway was her third of the year. She hasn’t finished better than 17th (Atlanta).
Her struggles come as Stewart-Haas Racing is deep in a legal battle with Patrick’s former sponsor, Nature’s Bakery.
But it’s all taken a toll on any optimism Patrick had at the beginning of the year.
“Like I probably told you at the beginning of the year, every year I come into it with hope,” Patrick said Wednesday on SiriusXM NASCAR Radio. “Now that hope has kind of been crushed because we’ve been through enough races it’s not going to be like a light switch. But it’s kind of turned me into a light switch. It’s time for some honesty, it’s time for some figuring out what the hell we’re doing because this is not helping anybody.”
“It doesn’t really help anybody if I’m out there running 25th. I’m not sure that does a lot for me.”
Patrick’s finish of 36th at Bristol gave her an average finish of 27.1 through eight races. The last time she placed in the top 15 was when she finished 11th in last fall’s Bank of America 500, 15 races ago.
Even with her hope crushing results so far, Patrick has a lot going for her off the track. Next year she’ll publish her first fitness and health book, “Pretty Intense.” In January, she launched her “Warrior by Danica Patrick” fashion line.
With Patrick not having much fun in her current position on the track, could there be a team or career change for the 35-year-old driver soon?
“Could mean either, to be honest,” Patrick said. “If I could do better with a different team then I would do it. I do love racing. But I don’t love being miserable every weekend like I am now. Let’s face it, the people around me probably aren’t that happy either. None of us want to go out there and not run well. In the mean time, nothing would be easier than just continuing.
“Continuing with the same people and with the same team if I could. But it’s also a matter of being realistic about what’s going to be possible and what makes sense and where I’m going to be the most successful. And everything takes care of itself when things go well on track.”
Patrick will next pilot her No. 10 Ford at Richmond International Raceway. In eight starts at the .75-mile track, Patrick has an average finish of 24th. But she earned her best finish there last fall when she placed 15th.