HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Danica Patrick’s final season in NASCAR came to a fiery end.
Two days after announcing her retirement from full-time racing, Patrick slammed the wall at Homestead-Miami Speedway and as she steered her car toward pit road smoke filled the cockpit as fire broke out under the car. Smoke forced her to stop short of pit road, where Patrick jumped out of the car, dejected.
It was sobering end for the 35-year-old, who announced Friday that she will no longer compete full time, but that she will officially end her career with a two-race set next year: the Daytona 500 and Indy 500.
“I feel angry,” Patrick said. “I’m disappointed it was my fault I got a tire rub because I caught the wall in 3 and 4. And not really for any good reason either.”
Patrick said she was running the high line at the 1.5-mile track and just got a little too high and her car hit the wall. While she said her crew told her that the car looked OK, she said she had smoke in the car until the tire blew apart and her car crashed into the wall. Much harder.
She also collected Kasey Kahne in the crash. It’s the 10th time in 2017 where Patrick hasn’t finished a race because of a crash.
“Felt like the story of the year and what has pushed me to the decision that I ended up making [Friday] is it just seemed that every time things were going better something would happen,” she continued. “My fault or sometimes not my fault and this is kind of another case of that.”
Patrick announced in September that her tenure with Stewart-Haas Racing was over at the end of the season. But with no rides available — and more significantly, no sponsor backing — the possibility of a full-time job in a non-backmarker in 2018 was pretty faint.
Patrick was set to have backing from a fig bar company for a second year in 2017 but the company became embroiled in a financial dispute with SHR. That left the team looking for funding for Patrick’s car with just weeks to go before the season.
Stewart-Haas is the only team she’s ever driven for in the Cup Series. In five full-time seasons and a part-time season she’s scored seven top-10 finishes and a pole position. Her best season was 2016, when she finished 24th in the points standings for a second-straight season and had a career-best average finish of 22nd.
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