Danica Patrick’s Racing Future Still In Limbo

Danica Patrick has no solid plans for her career in racing at this point after announcing she will be leaving Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the 2017 season. Photo by Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Seventeen days after announcing her departure from Stewart-Haas Racing at season’s end, Danica Patrick has no concrete plans for her future in racing.

For the time being, she’s leaving those matters to her ‘people’.

“Yeah, I’ve had some (discussions), but not a ton,” Patrick said on Friday at Dover International Speedway, where she is driving the No. 10 Warriors in Pink Ford to mark Breast Cancer Awareness month in Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400.

“As I’ve said for a good while now, I let business people in my business handle that and have those conversations and figure out what options are out there, and I’m going to let them do that.”

In her fifth full season of Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series racing, Patrick has posted seven top 10s in 182 starts, with her best finish a sixth at Atlanta in 2014. She considers her pole-winning run for the 2013 Daytona 500 the obvious highlight of her stock car racing career.

“That one will be the biggest one that will stand out,” Patrick acknowledged. “There have been lots of little races along the way that I have felt have been much more difficult and much more representative of the hard work that I’ve put into the sport. But those don’t stand out because those weren’t wins or top fives.

“But top 10s and things like that and some runs that I’ve had have meant more to me. I definitely think pulling back a little further than individual events is the inspiration that you’ve been told you bring to people, especially to kids. That’s a role that you can’t buy your way into. You have to earn that… That’s probably the most meaningful.”

Patrick says she isn’t likely to return to IndyCar but won’t rule it out completely.

“I’m not planning on anything, going back to IndyCar,” said the 35-year-old driver. “Never say never, as I’ve said for many years, because I’m getting so old, and I know things can change.

“My life changes in ways that I wouldn’t expect it every couple of years. You just can’t cross off anything on the list completely.”

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Was Surprised He’s Still In Contention

After a disaster at Chicagoland Speedway and a nondescript performance at New Hampshire, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. can take solace that he’s still in contention to advance beyond the Round of 16 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs.

In fact, with the cutoff looming after Sunday’s Apache Warrior 400, Stenhouse is currently above the cut line, thanks to a tiebreaker he holds over Austin Dillon. Stenhouse has two victories in the series this season to one for the driver of the No. 3 Chevrolet.

Stenhouse and Dillon are tied for the 12th and final position in the second round, 105 points behind series leader Martin Truex, Jr. Ryan Newman, Dillon’s teammate at Richard Childress Racing, is one point behind Dillon and Stenhouse.

After Chicagoland, where he scraped the wall, drew a penalty for a commitment line violation and finished 25th—last among the 16 Playoff drivers—Stenhouse thought his title campaign was over. But the misfortunes of others, in particular the catastrophic finishes of Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne at New Hampshire, helped keep the race for the Round of 12 closer than expected.

“After our poor performance at Chicago I thought we were kind of out of it,” Stenhouse said. “Then when I got done, with the issues some of the other cars had, we were right there within striking distance.

“We didn’t have a great Loudon (15th), but we managed to gain some points there, and that’s what we have to keep doing. We have to keep our head down and fight to the end.”

Short Strokes

-Led by three-time Dover winner Matt Kenseth at 162.550 mph, Playoff drivers claimed the first nine positions on the speed chart in opening Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series practice at the Monster Mile. In his final season at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth is still looking for a ride for 2018.

-For the first time in the Playoffs, but to the surprise of no one, Jimmie Johnson showed up with some speed, posting the third fastest lap (162.023 mph) in opening practice behind Kenseth and Kyle Larson. The seven-time series champion hopes to add to his record 11 victories at the one-mile concrete track.

 

About Reid Spencer-NASCAR Wire Service