Danica Patrick to leave Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of 2017

Rusty Jarrett/NKP

By Aaron Bearden, Motorsports Editor

Danica Patrick will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) in 2018.

The lone female currently competing in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Patrick announced on her Facebook page Tuesday that she won’t continue on with SHR past the end of this season, ending a relationship that dates back to her 2012 Cup Series debut.

Patrick’s statement reads as follows: “As many of you are aware, Stewart-Haas Racing announced this morning they will have a new sponsor/driver for the 2018 season. Below is a statement from Danica regarding the announcement.

“It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons. Together we earned a Daytona 500 pole, seven top-10 finishes and we also had some exciting racing along the way. My time driving for them, however, has come to an end due to a new sponsorship arrangement in 2018. Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve. Our amazing partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful.

I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. Thanks for the memories. Right now, my focus is on the remainder of the 2017 season and finishing the year strong. I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future.”

Patrick, 35, has competed full-time with SHR in the Cup Series since 2013, tallying seven top 10s and a career-best finish of 24th in the championship standings. The Roscoe, Illinois native also has 61 starts in the XFINITY Series, with one top five and seven top 10s.

Before her tenure in NASCAR Patrick competed in the IndyCar Series, becoming the first woman to win a race in the series with her 2008 triumph at Twin Ring Motegi.

Without anything confirmed for next year, Patrick’s NASCAR career now heads into an uncertain future. Patrick has struggled to find sponsorship over the past year, having fought through a dispute with sponsor Nature’s Bakery that ended in a settlement that saw Patrick and Clint Bowyer sponsored for a combined four races.

Patrick’s announcement comes after an earlier announcement from Smithfield Foods that they’ll be sponsoring a new entrant to the SHR fold next season. Richard Petty Motorsports later confirmed the news, noting that Aric Almirola will no longer compete for the team next season.

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