Patrick will complete her fifth and final season with Stewart-Haas Racing this year. She stated Sept. 12 in a Facebook posting that she would not return to the team because of lack of sponsorship. Patrick enters Sunday’s race at Dover International Speedway 28th in the points.
She has said that she only wants a Cup ride and one that is competitive. Very few such rides appear available for next season.
“As I’ve said for a good while now, I let business people in my business handle that and have those conversations and figure out what options are out there, and I’m going to let them do that,” Patrick said Friday at Dover International Speedway after announcing her car will be pink this weekend and next at Charlotte to promote Breast Cancer Awareness month.
Whether Patrick races in NASCAR next year, she will have accomplished more than any other female driver in the series. She won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to do so. While critics will point to her having seven top-10 finishes in 182 starts, she has run more races than any other female driver in series history.
Asked about her proudest moment in NASCAR, Patrick said:
“The one that will stand out is qualifying on the pole for the Daytona 500 as the media results of that were something like winning the fourth biggest race of the year, even though it’s just for qualifying. That one will be the biggest one that will stand out. There have been lots of little races along the way that I have felt have been much more difficult and much more representative of the hard work that I’ve put into the sport. But those don’t stand out because those weren’t wins or top fives. But top 10s and things like that and some runs that I’ve had have meant more to me. I definitely think pulling back a little further than individual events is the inspiration that you’ve been told you bring to people, especially to kids, that’s a role that you can’t buy your way into. You have to earn that. You just can’t stumble onto that, especially having been around a long time now. That’s probably the most meaningful.
“Do I think that I’ve had the best car on track with the best engine, the best, best, best, best, best? Probably not. Have I had good teams? Absolutely. Have I had good equipment? Absolutely. The challenges are those last little details and having a group of people around you that believe that you can do it and are willing to go beyond the call of duty for the job and go the extra mile.
“My very first engineer in IndyCar uses a reference that comes to mind. He called it the “100 Hand Theory.” If you stick one hand out the window, it doesn’t make a difference. If your stick 100 (hands) it does. All those small, small, small little details that stack up to make something special that goes out on track, yeah, that’s something that always hasn’t been there. I do think that I’ve always had good equipment.”
As Patrick considers her options for next year, could IndyCar be in the mix?
“No,’’ she said. “I’m not planning on anything, going back to IndyCar. Never say never as I’ve said for many years because I’m getting so old and I know things can change. My life changes in ways that I wouldn’t expect it every couple of years. You just can’t cross off anything on the list completely.”