When Danica Patrick first burst onto the scene in 2005 she was heralded as American Open Wheel Racing's best chance to see a woman climb atop the top step of the podium. And, by 2008 she came through on that promise by winning the Japan 300 as well as becoming the first woman to ever lead a lap of the Indianapolis 500.
Much has been written about Patrick and her career, but in an announcement Friday, she declared that career would come to an end, with 2017 being her last full season in competitive racing.
Patrick, who has raced in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series since 2012, announced earlier this year that she would not be returning to race with Stewart Haas Racing, owing to a lack of sponsorship.
Patrick in front of her 2017 Daytona challenger. Photo credit: NASCAR
"I definitely was faced with situations at the beginning of the year that I’ve never faced before." she said in her retirement announcement. "I’ve never had sponsor issues. It made me think about things. I’m excited about the next phase, trust me."
"I don’t feel like I was necessarily pushed into this," she continued. "I feel like I should be doing this. I feel like this is where my life should be headed. Sometimes we just get kind of nudged there. Sometimes it is big nudges, and sometimes it’s little. "
Patrick greeting fans during driver introductions. Photo credit: AP.
But despite retiring from full time driving, Patrick also announced that she was not done with racing all together.
Instead, she will end her career by running two of the most prestigious races America has to offer. For the 2018 season, she will run in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
“He (Patrick's agent Alan Zucker) called, and he said, 'What about finishing up at Daytona?' and I don’t know where it came from, but out of my mouth came, 'What about Indy?' I don’t even know why I said it necessarily, but it was really the first idea that got me really excited."
While it is unknown exactly who she will race for at next year's Daytona 500, early reports seem to confirm that Patrick has been in early talks to run the Indianapolis with Chip Ganassi Racing.