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Danica Patrick Set for Daytona 500, Indy 500 in 2018
After competing at the top level of motorsports for 12 years, Danica Patrick is set to take a step back. She announced on Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway that the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season will be her last full-time campaign.
That doesn’t mean she’s done racing yet, though. She will be back behind the wheel in 2018, with plans to compete in both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500. When she left the Verizon IndyCar Series behind, she didn’t think that she’d return to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing with her saying never, but never said never due to knowing better.
The idea came about through discussion with her agent, as he suggested completing her career with one more shot at Daytona.
“I don’t know where it came from but then out of my mouth came, ‘What about Indy?’,” she said. “I don’t even know what I said it necessarily but it was really the first idea that got me really excited. That was it. He said, ‘I would love for you to do both.’ And I was like, ‘Well let’s do it!’ And then I called Haley and said, ‘What did I just say that I would do? Do you think this is a good idea?’ And she said, ‘Hell yes I think that’s a good idea!’ And that was it. I’m still surprised. So that’s how it came about. It came from my heart and I think it’s going to be awesome.”
She has done well at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before, placing outside of the top-10 once in seven races with a career-best third in 2009. But now returning, she realizes there will be a “little bit of adjusting” with some time to accumulate back with the cars.
“I think we’ll cross that bridge when we get a little bit closer,” she said. “Hopefully there is a fair amount time before that. I would like to get into a car before I get to Indy. I even wondered do I have to do rookie orientation again? I think you I have to do a day or something? I definitely have a level of fear and nervousness about it. Just a little bit because it’s been so long. I believe that I will catch on and remember quickly.”
Patrick did not release any further details regarding her 2018 plans, but noted that she was “down the line with different facets of moving forward but nothing final yet.” She also mentioned how it would be possible to run both events for the same team, which is only possible through Team Penske and Chip Ganassi Racing.
Team Penske has already solidified four entries for the Indianapolis 500 – Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, Will Power, and Josef Newgarden.
Chip Ganassi did confirm to Jenna Fryer of the Associated Press that he had spoken to Patrick and her team, loved the idea, but things needed to come together in a business sense.
Patrick began her career in open-wheel, completing seven full seasons with a best points-standings finish of fifth in 2009. She then began to dabble in NASCAR in 2010, before running the full NASCAR XFINITY Series campaign in 2012. Since then, she has spent the last five seasons competing in the Cup Series, with a career-best sixth-place finish at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 2014.
Rumblings began to circulate regarding Patrick’s future when it was confirmed various sponsors would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018.
“I’m not feeling like I was pushed into this,” she said. “I feel like I should be doing this. I feel like this is where my life should be headed. And sometimes we just get kind of nudged there. Sometimes it’s big nudges and sometimes it’s little. But I definitely I was faced with situations at the beginning of the year that I had never faced before. I had never had sponsor issues. It made me think about things and so I’m excited about the next phase. Trust me.”
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