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Patrick Leaving NASCAR After 2017 Season

Updated on September 12, 2017
kenneth avery profile image

Kenneth has been a member of HubPages for five years. He is retired from a 23-year career in the weekly newspaper business.

 Danica Patrick-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-2016.
Danica Patrick-Las Vegas Motor Speedway-2016. | Source

What elephant in what room? Okay. So I'm an opportunist.

Danica Sue Patrick, is an American professional stock car racing driver, model, and advertising spokeswoman. Is she pretty? Is she hot? Yes, on both counts, but don't judge her as eye candy. Patrick is the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel racing—her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 is the only women's victory in an IndyCar Series race and her third place in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 is the highest finish there ever by a woman. She competed in the series from 2005 to 2011. In 2012, she competed in the NASCAR Nationwide Series and occasionally in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Does Patrick always finish in First Place? No. But she is always a heated competitor.

She currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing. In 2013, she became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, turning in the fastest qualifying lap since 1990—qualifying for the Daytona 500. Her eighth place in the 2013 Daytona 500 is the highest finish for a woman in the Daytona 500.

Until this season's end. Now I see the elephant in the far corner. Danica Sue, (love that name) will, if she has not signed a contract with someone else, will seek faster pastures elsewhere. It leaked out recently that she is not re-upping with Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018 due to January 19, 2017, Nature's Bakery terminating its sponsorship of Patrick, citing inadequate social media promotion and the endorsement of a rival product. Days later, Stewart-Haas Racing filed a $31 million breach-of-contract lawsuit for compensation for the 25 races that Nature's Bakery was scheduled to sponsor in 2017 and more in 2018 The suit refuted both grounds upon which Nature's Bakery terminated the sponsorship and accused Nature's Bakery of plotting to avoid future payments and not having the resources to fulfill the demands of a primary sponsorship. But listen, guys. Patrick is certainly no cry baby. Sponsors and legal entanglements notwithstanding, she has and does stand her own ground and has stood her ground after a NASCAR race when she (Danica) felt as if another female driver had not drove her clean in a few of the racetrack turns. This is not your grandfather's sizzling hot female NASCAR driver. She has grit to spare. She speaks her own mind even if it means facing penalties enforced by NASCAR rules.

Before this hub was written, I imagined myself in the seat of Danica Patrick's No. 10 Ford for Stewart-Hass Racing and took a mental tour of what I might face "if" I were Patrick, the first NASCAR driver to win a Sprint Cup pole. Pretty doggone exciting. When my car came into the pit area where my crew chief and crew were standing there cheering and high-fiving this milestone victory, I suppose that I would be jumping up and down applauding all at the same time. I wouldn't even care if I viewed a few female NASCAR driver wannabe's looking from the distance and they looked like they could bite a nail into. I earned this race. I paid my dues. And if you don't like it "dearie," I will smash you with my purse in a moment.

This is not a "make Patrick leaving NASCAR a female to make jokes" piece. That is so cheap of anyone. Me included. Frankly, I am sad that Patrick is leaving what is and will always be "an Ol' Boy's Racing Business." Ask any of the males--Denny Hamlin, Clint Boyer and more if they are happy if Danica's leaving and all of these males will lie with the mastery of the Watergate Burglars. Stone-faced. Straight into the camera lens. I cannot wait to see these guys go through the motions when Danica's last race is over. Oh, the gala in the air. The hand shakes, high fives and careful embraces from the male drivers. Let's face it. In the beginning, the male-dominated NASCAR business hated Danica and any female who was brave enough to fire up an engine. Simple ego. Not an issue for National Security. Just male ego.

I had sat down (before this hub was published) and did myself some serious thinking, again, if I were in Danica Sue Patrick's shoes. And the number one thing of concern would rate as my top concern: My soon-to-be ex-husband, Paul Edward Hospenthal, who had previously been her physical therapist while she was recovering from a yoga injury. She converted to Catholicism upon marrying Hospenthal in 2005. In November 2012, Patrick announced on her Facebook page that after seven years of marriage, she and Hospenthal would be divorcing amicably. I have to wonder that these two events--Patrick's leaving NASCAR and hubby, Paul Hospenthal going to "split the sheets." It's just life. That's all. Just life.

But it's Danica Sue Patrick's life. And the life of one strong woman.

 Patrick during driver introductions at the Patrick during driver introductions at the 2015 ToyotaSave Mart 350 Sonoma CA.
Patrick during driver introductions at the Patrick during driver introductions at the 2015 ToyotaSave Mart 350 Sonoma CA. | Source

© 2017 Kenneth Avery

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    • kenneth avery profile image
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      Kenneth Avery 2 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Dear Liz,

      No argument here. In fact, I would love to meet her and spend an afternoon and gather enough fodder to help me write an Award-Winning Hub.

      Of course, I would pay for her lunch as well as mine.

      I am not an Ogre. LOL.

      Write me anytime.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 weeks ago from Oakley, CA

      Oh, I agree with you on her chutzpah in competing in racing in the first place.

      That she is able to is thanks in large measure to such early trailblazers as Janet Guthrie, Sara Christian, and Shirley Muldowney, among others.

      She has my respect, but I'd still like to see her back in the arena where she really had it going on.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Kristen,

      Thanks for your sweet comment. Your comment was warm and very caring about Danica. I give you a high-five for reading and commenting.

      Come back anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      WheelScene,

      Thank you so very much. Your comment is Much-Appreciated.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Louise,

      Patrick was a fiery competitor on and off the track. In one way, I am sad to see her next avenue of competition, but glad to have watched her on the track.

      Write me anytime.

    • kenneth avery profile image
      Author

      Kenneth Avery 3 weeks ago from Hamilton, Alabama

      Hi, Liz,

      Point taken. I am prone to agree with you on the obvious difference between Formula 1 and NASCAR. But given the boldness of even competing with the MALE dominated business of NASCAR, to me, deserves my respect.

      Come back anytime, Liz.

    • WheelScene profile image

      WheelScene 5 weeks ago from U.S.A.

      Thanks for sharing this was a great read!

    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 5 weeks ago from Northeast Ohio

      This was interesting to know about her amicable split with NASCAR and the rough times she had so far. Thanks for sharing. Hope things get better for her.

    • Coffeequeeen profile image

      Louise Powles 5 weeks ago from Norfolk, England

      That was interesting to read, I've not heard of her before.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 5 weeks ago from Oakley, CA

      Frankly, I'm surprised she transferred to NASCAR in the first place; she did much better when she was driving Formula 1 cars (open-wheel class--like the Indy 500).

      She may have once won a pole position, but it is worth noting that a driver sitting on the pole does not necessarily have an advantage over the rest of the field. In fact, it is rare that the pole-sitter has also won the race!

      I hope, in leaving NASCAR, that she returns to Formula 1!