Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing

NASCAR set to kick off playoff opener at Chicagoland

On Tuesday afternoon it was announced Danica Patrick will not continue to drive for Stewart Haas Racing in 2018.

Harvick and Bowyer are under contract, while Busch and Patrick are free agents whose returns to the organization are predicated on sponsorship.

Danica made her NASCAR debut in the XFINITY Series in 2010, driving a part-time schedule for JR Motorsports whilst continuing with her IndyCar series duties.

"Over the past few months, Smithfield had continually told me they wanted to be with us, and I recently shook hands on a deal to extend our relationship", he said in a statement. "She's one of the most fearless people I've ever met. Will likely take decades to see anyone even challenge her legacy", Brad Keselowski posted on Twitter.

Patrick has been with Stewart-Haas Racing all six years that she has been involved in NASCAR. The 35-year-old owns seven top-10 finishes in 180 career starts.

Winning the IndyCar race in Japan in 2008 and becoming the highest-finishing woman in Indianapolis 500 history with a third-place run in 2009, Patrick began her transition to stock cars in 2010.

Patrick is known for being the first woman to lead the Indy 500 (she did so for 19 laps) and the second woman to win a pole position in the Indy Racing League. "We're going to end this season strong and make the most of these last 10 races".

The sponsorship arrangement that Patrick was eluding to is the deal between Stewart-Haas Racing and Smithfield Foods, who announced today that they would be switching to SHR having previously sponsored the #43 Richard Petty Motorsports vehicle of Aric Almirola since 2012. Patrick says she remains focused on the rest of the season. The two are teammates at SHR and Harvick has tried to help Patrick over the years.

With the departure of Danica Patrick a top tier vehicle is opened. "I hope that Danica gets a sponsor because she's an important part of our sport". "The impact and the footprint that she has brought to our sport is big". But that vehicle is expected to carry on with a new driver and sponsor. The team does not have a deal yet with current Daytona 500 victor Kurt Busch, and Busch, Patrick and Clint Bowyer have all had sponsorship difficulties this season. Her statement today confirmed her reasons for her split from the Stewart-Haas Racing team, but there were no indications of any 2018 plans as of yet; perhaps signaling a potential end to, at least, her stock vehicle racing career.

Patrick has launched a clothing line, has a book coming out next year and has made a huge transition into promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. Yet Patrick, who has no career top 5 finishes, somehow has maintained her ride up until now despite her continuous lackluster performances.

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