Friday, 22 September, 2017

Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Hass Racing after new sponsor

Credit Brian Lawdermilk  NASCAR via Getty Images Credit Brian Lawdermilk NASCAR via Getty Images
Damon Campbell | 15 September, 2017, 00:43

She has lost her ride at Stewart-Haas Racing after this year.

Sponsorship is the publicly stated issue.

SHR said Tuesday it signed Smithfield as a sponsor but did not name a new driver. Where will Kasey Kahne land next?

Again, not promising and not exactly the results sponsors want to get behind. While it can't help that fewer eyeballs are watching NASCAR races, there are those who will continue to back a driver or a team, provided that value exceeds cost.

Danica Patrick readies for the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 9.

Her circumstances likely involve another sponsorship twist announced Tuesday. What's more, there's no apparent signs of improved performance.

With Danica Patrick out, who's in? Stewart-Haas is not that team.

Credit Robert Laberge  Getty Images
Credit Robert Laberge Getty Images

Only two Stewart-Haas drivers - Kevin Harvick (sixth) and Kurt Busch (12th) - qualified for the playoffs this year. Clint Bowyer has had his moments in his first season at SHR. Patrick's contract with SHR ran through 2018, but the team has been searching for sponsorship since the Nature's Bakery fiasco.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons", Patrick said.

Patrick has dealt with incredible pressure in her NASCAR career - partly because of the scrutiny of being a woman driver and the questions about whether she deserved her ride or was primarily a marketer filling a race vehicle seat. She is now on a 13-race drought of the same type heading into this year's playoffs, which she, once again, will not be a contender in.

That means it does not matter whether you believe she is a talented driver or has been given more opportunities than she deserves.

Hey, Danica Patrick gave it the old college try. So, you couldn't reasonably argue she hasn't had the equipment to excel. She has repeatedly said that she is financially secure enough that she does not have to race, and it wouldn't be worth doing if it made her miserable. It's not easy busting up the boy's club. She has never backed down from a challenge. Sometimes that hasn't always gone over well.

Danica Patrick won't return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, possibly ending her racing career after five years as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver. I pulled right in front of her to allow her to do it, but nothing happened.

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