Patrick to part with NASCAR team

Almirola pic

Smithfield will instead join Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018 but will not be a part of the plans for Danica Patrick, who announced Tuesday she would not be retuning to the No. 10 auto next season.

Patrick, in her statement, said it was an "honor" to drive for the team over the past six seasons, citing a Daytona 500 pole and seven top-10 finishes.

Patrick posted a statement on her Facebook page Tuesday saying her time with Stewart-Haas "had come to an end" due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season. She began her first fulltime Cup season in 2013 with a bang by winning the Daytonna 500 pole and has raced for the past five years with the team co-owned by Gene Haas and former driver Tony Stewart.

If SHR were to bring in a new driver, it would have no shortage of options. The company felt Patrick had endorsed competing products on her social media channels while Stewart-Haas claimed Nature's Bakery wasn't making its payments on time.

"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", said Patrick. The news forced changes at Stewart-Haas, which has struggled with sponsorship for three of its four cars, including the No. 10 driven by Patrick. "Our incredible partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful".

But if we've already mentally placed Almirola in a Smithfield-sponsored No. 10 SHR Ford, the more interesting aspect of all this is whether or not in spells the end of Patrick's NASCAR run. "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". Yet Patrick, who has no career top 5 finishes, somehow has maintained her ride up until now despite her continuous lackluster performances. "It's not fun. So if I don't feel like I can have the opportunity to move on from there and have a better opportunity, then honestly I don't care". Almirola is also available, but whether he and Smithfield could both leave RPM and join SHR in a package deal depends on the language in Smithfield's contract with RPM. Her lone IndyCar win came in Japan in 2008.

Shis now in 28th place in points standings this season as the playoffs begin this week at Chicagoland Speedway. Harvick is the only fully sponsored driver, with significant gaps on Bowyer's and Patrick's cars.

Danica Patrick, the only female driver now in the top-level Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, won't compete for Stewart-Haas Racing in the series next year.

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