Yesterday, Danica Patrick made it public that her time at Stewart-Haas Racing would be coming to an end following the 2017 season. The move didn’t really come as much of a surprise, as many have felt that this season was “do or die” for the 35-year old female driver. She has had sponsorship trouble really ever since GoDaddy ceased their partnership with Patrick in 2016. Also, despite being on one of NASCAR’s top teams, her performance has yet to improve, with her best season being 2016, where she averaged a measly 22nd place finish. The highest that Patrick ever finished in points standings was 24th in both 2015 and 2016.
Patrick showed a lot of potential when she made the jump from IndyCar to NASCAR full-time in 2012. In her only full-time season in NASCAR’s junior series, Patrick was able to finish 10th in points and put together several runs that had a lot of promise. Unfortunately, her fortune in the then Nationwide Series never transferred to the Cup Series. Her greatest achievement in Cup will seemingly forever be her earning the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500. In that race, Patrick showed that she could hang with the big boys, eventually finishing in 8th place. However, that race would be the only race that she would finish in the Top 10 all season.
The question now is where does Danica Patrick go from here? Does she move to another team within NASCAR? Try to go back into the IndyCar circuit? Or potentially even calling it quits on a career that, even though it lacks some statistics, is still the most successful of any woman in racing (with exception to drag racing).
I hope that in time, Danica Patrick will be appreciated and honored for what she has meant to both IndyCar and NASCAR. There were women before her that broke the barrier into the “boys club”, but what Danica did was show the world that women could be competitive in motor racing. She has inspired little girls to dream big. Thanks to Danica, we may see more women grow up and fight to get into motor sports.
Sadly, I say in time, because I know that in the moment there are still fans that never liked the idea of a woman on track. I still see comments on social media on a daily basis from fans of NASCAR that have never liked Danica. They like to claim that it has something to do with her hype, and her getting all the attention. Stop lying to yourselves. You truly never wanted a woman to be able to stand next to Dale Earnhardt, Jeff Gordon, Richard Petty, etc. and be seen as equals. There are still MANY men in the world that sadly cannot deal with women being successful. To those men, I say learn how to be a man yourself, before you have standards for what women can do.
Danica can drive. This is the same woman who rightfully could, and probably should, have won the Indianapolis 500 in her first attempt in 2005. In 7 Indy 500s, she finished in the top 10 6 times. The one time that she didn’t finish in the top 10? She was involved in a pit lane crash. Even in stock cars, she had races where her driving ability was highlighted. The notion that Danica only got her job because of how she looks, is asinine and laughable. She earned her rides in both IndyCar and NASCAR.
Danica Patrick was a storm when she burst on the scene in Indianapolis in 2005, and the storm rolled all the way into NASCAR. While the storm may be dying off, her contribution to women in motorsports will be felt for years to come. Instead of bashing her, try to spend potentially her final 10 races of her life appreciating what she has done.
Danica Patrick, if your curtain call is in November in Miami, I just want to say that it’s been a privilege.
Thank you for setting an example for little girls everywhere.
You won’t be forgotten.