Lacking a sponsor, Danica Patrick won't drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018

Danica Patrick won't return to Stewart-Haas Racing next season, possibly ending her racing career after five years as a full-time NASCAR Cup driver.

The 35-year-old Patrick has seven top-10s in 180 career starts. She has driven for Stewart-Haas Racing throughout her entire NASCAR career, and while her contract originally ran through 2018, the team did not have an anchor sponsor for her for next year. Nature's Bakery ended its three-year deal after one season following the 2016 season.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons," Patrick said in a statement on her Facebook page. "Together we earned a Daytona 500 pole, seven top-10 finishes, and we also had some exciting racing along the way.

"My time driving for them, however, has come to an end due to a new sponsorship arrangement in 2018. ... I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. Thanks for the memories. Right now, my focus is on the remainder of the 2017 season and finishing the year strong. I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future."

SHR announced earlier Tuesday that it had signed Smithfield as a sponsor but did not say who will drive that car. It indicated that there would be a new driver on the lineup.

"Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve," Patrick said. "Our amazing partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful."

In interviews over the past several weeks, Patrick has been philosophical about her racing career.

"Quite simply, I just have faith what is meant to be will be," Patrick said Aug. 16 at SHR. "I believe in certain things like the law of detachment -- detaching from the outcomes that I think are supposed to happen and just like letting things go and letting things flow. The law of least resistance -- just let it go, stop trying to force and have in your heart what you want and just work really hard at what you're doing. There's nothing good can come from letting things spiral."


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