News Analysis: Danica Patrick to retire from full-time racing

What happened: Danica Patrick will retire from full-time racing and conclude her career with two races next season: the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500, she announced Friday afternoon. In an emotional and often tearful news conference, Patrick said she wasn’t forced into leaving NASCAR but was “nudged” into the next phase of her life after a ride for 2018 did not materialize. The 35-year-old has seven top-10 finishes and no top-fives in 189 career Cup Series races. Patrick acknowledged she has had “a little bit more struggle on a car-to-car basis than everyone, and it took me a really long time to say that. … With stock cars, the closing rates aren’t quite as quick, so I think it showed up more over time in stock cars just because you can be more defensive than in an IndyCar.”

What it means: The Great Star Power Drain continues in NASCAR. Whether or not you thought Patrick was worthy of an elite Cup Series ride for five full seasons despite not producing results on the track, you can’t argue with the name recognition she brought to NASCAR. There are people in this country who can only name one NASCAR driver — and it’s her. Though her celebrity and fame didn’t save NASCAR from its decline or turn the sport around, Patrick absolutely brought new eyes to the sport and created new fans — many of them young females — by giving people someone different to root for. Her loss, particularly combined with the departures of Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr., is a big blow to NASCAR when it comes to coverage in the general sports world.

News value (scale of 1 to 10): 10. This is a mega celebrity retiring from NASCAR when some people were hopeful she could somehow remain in the sport and find another team despite her ride at Stewart-Haas Racing going to Aric Almirola.

Three questions: What team will Patrick run the Daytona 500 and the Indy 500 with? Can she jump back into an IndyCar and be competitive again? In a decade from now, what will Patrick’s NASCAR legacy be?

15 Replies to “News Analysis: Danica Patrick to retire from full-time racing”

  1. I take it she didn’t mention what team she’ll be driving those two races for and who the sponsor will be. Be interesting to learn that.

  2. I just find the “10” rating hard to believe. Carl leaving was a 10. Prime of his career, championship contender, and completely unexpected.

  3. This isn’t a surprise, it was more a matter of “when” than anything. It is a blow to NASCAR, but in light of Jr and Matt Kenseth leaving, her time of departure from NASCAR is going to be overshadowed.

    Honestly, without her I don’t see NASCAR taking that big of a blow, and it will be hard to discern what the impact was since Jr and Kenseth are stopping now, the combined effects of which are probably far greater than Danica’s leaving.

    I would agree that a ’10” rating for this news is going a bit too far.

  4. The next female star in NASCAR will likely be Natalie Decker. Keep close watch on her. She will run full ARCA schedule in 2018.

  5. Totally agree the news value is highly over-rated at 10 for sure. Maybe a 5 at the most. Everyone knew this was coming.

  6. Wait until May. It’s going to be huge when she returns to the Indy 500.. The Greatest Spectacle in Racing is the event that made her famous and the newsworthiness of this, at that time, will be hard to avoid.

  7. Jeff, perhaps an analysis of how Danica’s leaving NASCAR affects females in the sport coming up, and what you see it doing to the female fan base in general would be a good story.

    And just as an aside, that news conference was brutal. I wouldn’t have wished that situation on anyone.

  8. This has nothing to do with the subject matter. It’s just an idea.
    Have the season start and finish at Daytona! The all American Daytona 500 by Chevy and the Champion Daytona 500 by Ford. When we go to Homestead we stay at Key Largo at a marginal Motel. We never go to Miami Because we don’t feel safe. So what is there to do at that time of the year. Miami is a long drive from the south east states, let alone the north east. Who wants to fly into Miami and not know the area and have to rent a car to get to the track. Denny’s out of the Championship race, what other reason would we go? Daytona/Orlando, you know what I’m saying.

  9. Regardless of who it is retiring, just look at the stands at most of the races, 25 to 30% of the seats are empty. Numerous drivers don’t like the way nascar is headed and the new format. they need to back up, and give the drivers more say in the way races are run. If they don’t it’s going to turn into the same mess that happened to Indy car racing the way it got split up. Also regular drivers should not be allowed to race in both races, the younger drivers don’t get a chance at a career, with all the big name drivers taking the seats. I quit going to the tracks 5 yrs ago, because of the way the races are now and then.

  10. the same thing is happening with drag racing, too many changes too soon and insane ticket prices have made it hard to follow, both orgazations as a fan, also the TV coverage sucks

  11. A “10”??? I don’t think so. We all saw this coming a mile away and she herself said as much weeks ago on facebook. Get real Jeff. Maybe a 4 or 5. Had it came out of the blue without any warning maybe a 7 or 8 given her sucky stats (which by themselves would result in most drivers being shown the door).

  12. She is NOT leaving on her terms and she is being forced out. No sponsors willing to back her and no team will hire her. That’s bring forced out Danica, period. She has never been the brightest bulb in the room, seems Gluck isn’t either.
    Haas won’t waste anymore money on her, but Chip will.

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