Danica Patrick and Stewart-Haas Racing announced last week that they plan to part ways after the 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series season. This could mean the end of Patrick's tenure in the NASCAR ranks. Racking up 7-Top 10 finishes in five full-time Cup Series seasons. The Illinois native has not only performed at times on the race track, posting the best statistics by any woman in the history of the sport but in doing so, opened many doors for future female stars.
The 35-year-old, former IndyCar star has not announced her 2018 plans yet, but a return to the open-wheel ranks seems doubtful. In a sports age that desires young athletes, it would be very unlikely to see her in a full-time IndyCar seat again, but a once a year driver at Indianapolis could be in the cards.
Tony Stewart, co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, pointed towards a possible move to some kind of road course racing for Danica. With many series across America and Europe, she could definitely fit in with the Sports Car ranks. One move that nobody is talking about is a possible mix between many different forms of racing in 2018 for the former Daytona 500 polesitter.
In recent seasons we have seen stars like Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon retire from NASCAR and take on different forms of auto racing. Stewart returned to Dirt Track Racing full-time and Gordon took on the Rolex 24-Hour event at Daytona, taking home the victory. Danica Patrick didn't grow up racing Sprint Cars or Midgets, she didn't run them one she got to IndyCar or NASCAR either. Other NASCAR drivers, that have marginal careers at the top, have also turned to various Dirt Track Racing divisions to continue their racing careers or simply have a good time racing at the grassroots level as they enjoy their retirement.
Patrick didn't grow up racing Sprint Cars or Midgets, she didn't run them one she got to IndyCar or NASCAR either. Patrick however, did take on the Prelude to the Dream, an exhibition race that Tony Stewart used to put on at Eldora Speedway. She started 26th and finished 25th, but admitted she had fun and learned a ton.
In 2018, could Danica Patrick make a few starts on dirt? With a NASCAR car owner in Tony Stewart and a boyfriend in Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Danica could have many opportunities to do so if she pursued it.
Over the years the Chili Bowl Nationals in Tulsa, Oklahoma has been a place where drivers from different forms of auto racing have tried their hand at Dirt Track Racing. Some with success, some without it. Whether you're a NASCAR fan or strictly a fan of the dirt stuff, we can all agree it would be cool to see Danica try her hand at one of our series.
The Eldora Speedway NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, as well as many other big events, would be the perfect places for Danica to get her feet wet in the sport. No, this wouldn't be a gimmick just to sell tickets or a story-line to put money in someone's pocket, this would be one of the most diverse drivers in America, becoming even more diverse.
A full-time move to Dirt Track Racing for Patrick may not be ideal and could be out of the cards, but a few starts, in our biggest races, are open to everyone. Having a resume in NASCAR, IndyCar, Sports Car racing and many European open-wheel series, a Dirt Track Racing resume would complete her racing career, even if it didn't bring success or race wins.
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