NASCAR Silly Season News: The Future of Danica Patrick
We’re now into the time of the year where driver movement and contract negotiations become the key talking points. With the regular season coming to a close, everyone has their eyes on the Playoffs and the next season. Driver movement is always interesting in NASCAR, and if you’re a follower of a certain driver or team, then you’ll need to know the latest updates that will help you to make your future predictions for the series.A number of interesting stories have emerged recently, with perhaps the most intriguing one being related to the future of Danica Patrick.
No Future with Stewart – Haas Racing: Where Will Danica Patrick Go?
Danica Patrick has been with Stewart – Haas Racing since 2013, and this year will wrap up her 5th overall season with the team. She has had a moderate amount of success in stock car racing, finishing in 27th place in her first year with Stewart – Haas, and then slowly improving to finish in 24th in both 2015 and 2016. This season she’s in 28th position with 352 points. Her best finish this year was 10th place at the 2017 AAA 400 Drive for Autism, held at the Dover International Speedway.Although she’s not up at the top of the table, her racing this year can be described as consistent. She’s a solid midfield performer who is able to bring out good results in the right conditions. However, many who have backed Danica in the past may be disappointed by her NASCAR career, especially after she showed so much potential in open wheel racing.Although 35 years of age doesn’t quite put her in the retirement range, she has already indicated that this year could be her last. In quotes to the press she seems to be well aware that her NASCAR career hasn’t quite met her own expectations or the potential that she had previously shown in other racing series’.Talking to the Associated Press earlier this year, she was candid about her future. “As long as it’s fun – and it hasn’t been super fun lately. But every year I start the year, I always have hope that it’s going to be the year that things are going to click. I understand my career hasn’t progressed. Maybe it’s regressed? Why is that? Am I a worse driver than I was a couple of years ago? Probably not. I don’t think anybody gets worse. So it’s really a matter of all the factors around you.”This quote was taken ahead of the 2017 season, and it’s clear from the results that things haven’t got much better. Although her overall finishing record in NASCAR has slowly improved, it still hasn’t been on the level that it needs to be, or that she would have expected.The latest news is that important sponsor Aspen Dental is looking to move away from Stewart – Haas Racing, and that leaves the team and Danica in an awkward position. Without backing, the team will likely look for a younger driver.Are there options for her to move? She’s not the most in-demand driver in the sport, and there are leading teams that have better options than her in the future. Some experts have pointed to Furniture Row Racing as a possible place for a move, and Richard Childress Racing has also been mentioned. However, both of these teams do have other options, and it would be an optimistic stretch to predict that Danica would be moving to either of these teams.We’ll know more about the situation as the year comes closer to the end, but at this stage it looks like the sun could be setting on a career that has failed to live up to the hype.
Other Available Drivers Yet to be Signed
Another thing that limits the options of Danica is the fact that there are other drivers looking for contracts, and they’ve been more successful than her in this last season of racing.Kurt Busch, another driver for Stewart – Haas Racing, is looking for his next contract and his seat for next year has not been confirmed. Busch is currently 13th in the NASCAR Monster Energy series, and he has one race win behind him this year. He will be a free agent going into next season, and Stewart – Haas has not yet confirmed that he will be on their roster next year.Hendrick Motorsports also contributed to the silly season news, when they decided that they wouldn’t proceed with the final year of Kasey Kahne’s contract. This will be surprising to some, especially as Kahne has shown some good performances this year. Although he’s down at 20th place in the series, he has a win behind him, after finishing in the top spot at the Brickyard 400 this year. Matt Kenseth, currently driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, is also without a contract for the next season. He has had a strong, consistent season, even if a race win has failed to materialize. He currently sits with 703 regular season points in 8th place of the NASCAR Monster Energy series. When asked by media if he had news of next year, he told reporters; “No, not at the moment. When I do I’ll tweet something. I’ll be honest with you. I’m not worried about [Next Season] even really one percent anymore to be honest with you. I’m just not concerned about it. I’m really concerned about 2017 and that’s the truth.” It has recently emerged that Kenseth has been talking to Furniture Row Racing about a potential move. This would effectively mean that a swap would occur, as Joe Gibbs Racing has recalled Erik Jones, currently loaned out to Furniture Row.Driver movements will be confirmed closer to the end of the year, and, despite what happens, it does appear likely at this time that we won’t be seeing Danica Patrick in the series next year.