Danica Patrick to leave Stewart-Haas Racing, NASCAR future uncertain

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Stewart posted this statement to Facebook on Wednesday and noted how well she's done transitioning from the IndyCar Series to the Cup Series.

Patrick has launched a clothing line, has a book coming out next year and has made a huge transition into promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. Harvick is the only fully sponsored driver, with significant gaps on Bowyer's and Patrick's cars. "Will likely take decades to see anyone even challenge her legacy", Brad Keselowski posted on Twitter.

In fact, just once in her previous four seasons driving for Stewart-Haas Racing has she finished higher than another driver who was driving for a top-tier team, and that was in 2015 when she finished higher than Tony Stewart in the final championship standings. Her career best finish was sixth at Atlanta in 2014.

SHR said Tuesday it signed Smithfield as a sponsor but did not name a new driver. Still, Harvick said that Patrick has played an important role in bringing new fans to NASCAR. While she showed promise at the start of her tenure as a full-time driver by taking the pole in the 2013 Daytona 500 and finishing in 8th place, she has been anything but a great driver since. She has seven top-10 finishes in 180 career starts and is now 28th in the standings, the lowest in her Cup career. Ricard Petty and the Smithfield CEO traded insults over lack of performance at RPM being the reason Smithfield is leaving. Patrick says she remains focused on the rest of the season.

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Stenhouse, who will make his debut in the playoffs this weekend at Chicagoland, said he's certain she's going to be fine. The two are teammates at SHR and Harvick has tried to help Patrick over the years. "I hope that Danica gets a sponsor because she's important to our sport". Negotiations with current driver Aric Almirola also stalled as the team attempted to finalize the sponsorship deal, ?and the team confirmed Tuesday afternoon that Almirola would not return to the team next season.

That means Smithfield could end up on the vehicle Patrick has driven.

"Smithfield has activated heavily and successfully within the sport, and we're honored to be a part of the brand's forward initiatives and strategy", SHR team President Brett Frood said. With rumours suggesting that a new driver could be in the frame at RPM, such as Darrell Wallace Jr who subbed for Almirola earlier this year, there's every chance that Almirola could be moving with his sponsor to Stewart-Haas.

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