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.