Patrick leaving Stewart-Haas Racing

Danica Patrick said on Tuesday she would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018 due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season that leaves her future in the sport in doubt.

Patrick - who has seven Top-10 finishes in 180 career starts in NASCAR - had been under contract with Stewart's team through 2018. She's 35, in a long-term relationship with Stenhouse and has acknowledged she'd like to get married and have children. "Thanks for the memories", Patrick continued.

Patrick joined SHR in 2013 when she moved into the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series. "Our incredible partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful". In fact, she's sought out new challenges throughout her career, and that's what brought her to NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing. In her 110-race career so far, Danica has only managed to finish in the top ten on seven occasions; with a best finish of sixth at Atlanta in 2014.

Danica Patrick announced via Faceboook Tuesday that her time with Stewart-Haas Racing was ending. Patrick is the only woman to win a Cup pole and those top-10 finishes are the most of any female Cup driver.

Patrick also made the following statement on Facebook, "Right now my focus is on the remainder of the 2017 season and finishing the year strong".

With Danica Patrick vacating her seat at SHR, one may assume that Almirola is inheriting the 10 vehicle with Smithfield as a sponsor. "I'm just kind of letting it organically flow".

"Smithfield has activated heavily and successfully within the sport, and we're honored to be a part of the brand's forward initiatives and strategy", SHR team President Brett Frood said. It is unclear whether Smithfield could sponsor Almirola - sponsorship contracts in NASCAR sometimes contain clauses that prohibit a sponsor to move with a driver - but SHR also has open inventory on the Clint Bowyer auto in addition to the cars now driven by Patrick and Busch. Smithfield is moving to sponsor a team at Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick told USA TODAY Sports last month that she was at peace about her future in NASCAR, however it turned out. "Or if I don't feel like that's something that will be possible, then I'm OK with that, too". She also finished third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

Other drivers including fellow SHR driver Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Matt Kenseth are all looking for new rides as well for next season, so her options could be limited. SHR landed fig-bar company Nature's Bakery to sponsor Patrick from 2016 to 2018, but the company terminated the deal, SHR sued Nature's Bakery and they eventually settled.

  • Stacy Allen