Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career hasn’t gone the way she, or her fans, hoped it would. And now, she might be at a breaking point.
Since entering the sport in 2010, the Stewart-Haas Racing driver has no wins on either the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series or the Xfinity Series. That lack of improvement, as well her recent sponsorship woes, have caused many to speculate if Patrick’s career in NASCAR could be coming to an end.
During a recent roundtable discussion, a panel of experts at Motorsport added fuel to that fire, suggesting that Patrick’s NASCAR exit is a foregone conclusion.
“I have no doubt this is Patrick’s final season at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Motorsport.com’s Jim Utter said. “Whether she may entertain the thought of joining another, less competitive team, I don’t know.
“But if she can’t acquire necessary sponsorship while competing at a top-level team like SHR, it’s unlikely she would do so anywhere else.”
Those are strong words from Utter. But considering he’s been covering NASCAR for nearly 30 years, they’re words that should be taken at least somewhat seriously.
He’s not the only member of the panel who feels Patrick’s days are numbered, though.
“I think this is Patrick’s last season because she simply has not exhibited any improvement in the last six years,” Lee Spencer said. “She’s currently 31st in the standings and has wrecked three times this season. That’s a hard sell for a team to a sponsor — particularly in equipment where her teammates are thriving.”
Those comments were made prior to Sunday’s Go Bowling 400, where Patrick’s season got even worse. After being involved in yet another hard wreck, she gave an interview to FOX Sports, in which she sounded as frustrated, if not more, than she’s ever been.
Still, Patrick leaving NASCAR isn’t something anybody wants to see happen.
“I feel this will probably be her final season in the Cup series,” Tim Southers said. “Part of me hopes not as I think she’s been great for the sport in getting young girls interested.
“Unfortunately, sooner or later, you have to produce results or run better, and she’s not been able to gain any consistent strong finishes.
Given that NASCAR already is about to lose its most popular driver, having Patrick walk away at the end of the season would come at the worst possible time.
Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images