Danica Patrick soon could have another sponsorship crisis on her hands.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver’s legal dispute with Nature’s Bakery, her former primary sponsor, was one of the biggest stories of the NASCAR offseason. Aspen Dental assumed primary sponsorship of the No. 10 Ford before the start of the season, but now is in talks to move on from SHR if Patrick does not return, as expected, SportsBusiness Daily’s Adam Stern reported Friday.
“Aspen Dental has talked to other teams about a possible switch away from Stewart-Haas Racing after this season with Danica Patrick’s return to the team looking increasingly unlikely,” Stern wrote.
If Aspen Dental indeed separates from Patrick, the dental-care chain has a few available options.
Following the departure of Nature’s Bakery, Patrick and SHR have been “evaluating whether their relationship would continue” after the 2017 season, according to Stern. Sources also told Stern that Patrick’s uncertain future with SHR had prompted Aspen Dental to talk with other NASCAR teams in recent months.
While none of this paints a pretty picture for Patrick, it’s important to note that SHR co-owner Gene Haas has said the team still is looking for sponsors. However, Haas also has made comments that suggest he, too, might be ready to move on from the 35-year-old, who still hasn’t won a NASCAR race.
Of course, the wild card in all of this is whether Patrick even remains in NASCAR beyond this season. Rumors of her retirement have swirled all season, with some industry experts convinced she won’t be back next season.
Thumbnail photo via Brian Spurlock/USA TODAY Sports Images