NASCAR Wire Services
An emotional Danica Patrick announced Friday at Homestead-Miami Speedway that she will step away from full-time NASCAR competition following Sunday’s season finale, but has plans to run the country’s two biggest races next year: the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.
“This will be my last season as a full-time driver,” she said through tears. “I’m grateful for all of the opportunities.”
The 2013 Daytona 500 pole winner and record-setting competitor is the first woman to compete full time in NASCAR’s highest level. She has competed full time in six total NASCAR seasons — one driving for JR Motorsports in the XFINITY Series level (2012) and the other five in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series driving for Stewart-Haas Racing.
She has a career-best finish of sixth at Atlanta in 2014. Last week at Phoenix, she made her 250th start at the NASCAR national series level, the most ever for a female.
Interestingly, she has the same number of laps led (64) and top-10 finishes (seven) in both her XFINITY career (61 starts) and her Cup career (189 starts).
In addition to her NASCAR accomplishments, Patrick, 35, is the only woman to win an IndyCar race (2008 in Japan) and boasts the top finish ever for a woman in both the Daytona 500 (eighth place, 2013) and the Indy 500 (third place, 2009).
“I’ve always been a believer in Danica’s ability as a race car driver and that continues to be the case,” SHR co-owner and former driver Tony Stewart said when Patrick announced in September she would not return to the No. 10. “She’s one of the most fearless people I’ve ever met. She has never backed down from a challenge. In fact, she’s sought out new challenges throughout her career, and that’s what brought her to NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing.”