Danica Patrick, the woman NASCAR fans loves to hate. Patrick burst onto the scene in 2005 when she led laps at the Indianapolis 500. She would go on to win Rookie Of The Year for both Indy and the season. In 2008 she became the first woman to win a Indycar race at the Indy Japan 300. She holds the highest finishes for a woman at both the Indy 500 (3rd) and Daytona 500 (8th) She also won pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to do so.
An argument could be made that she is the greatest female racing driver of all time. Personally I do not believe her legacy will be defined by podiums, race finishes or championships won. She has proven that girls absolutely have a place on the track. Danica’s legacy will be the unknown number of girls she inspires to pick up a helmet and go racing against the boys.
Despite her success Danica hasn’t had much of it in recent years. While she is still a polarizing name in the sport she isn’t the draw she once was. Now it appears she and Stewart Haas Racing (SHR) have some serious sponsor related issues. Nature’s Bakery, Danica’s Primary Sponsor for 2017 decided to pull their support without warning last month. This did not sit well with the team, so much so they filed a breach of contract lawsuit against the snack food company. SHR claims that Nature;s Bakery refused to pay SHR, thus violating their contract. SHR is seeking $31 million in damages.
This is entirely too much drama for a race team especially when you consider their biggest race, the Daytona 500 is right around the corner. The 500 also happens to be Danica’s best race. Fortunately for Danica and SHR is despite the messy legal battle they find themselves in SHR has found the support they needed to compete in the 2017 season. Ford Performance has stepped in to help the team out. SHR has made the switch to Ford from Chevy this season and it would appear the blue oval boys are serious about seeing their partners succeed.
“I don’t really want to make any additional comments given where we are in the whole situation, and it’s very unfortunate that we’re going through it right now,”Dave Pericak, Global Director, Ford Performance said, “but one way or another, I can just tell you that you will have that 10 car on the track, and it will be ready to perform.”