Danica Patrick will not return to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018 NASCAR season

Danica Patrick announced on her Facebook page Tuesday that she will not be returning to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2018. The 35-year old finished 28th in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series regular season standings.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons. Together we earned a Daytona 500 pole, seven top-10 finishes and we also had some exciting racing along the way. My time driving for them, however, has come to an end due to a new sponsorship arrangement in 2018. 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. Our amazing partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful."

The news is not necessarily surprising as there had been speculation Patrick could not fulfill sponsorships heading into next year. Stewart-Haas Racing announced earlier this year that Kurt Busch would not have his option picked up for next season.

Patrick joins a long list of NASCAR drivers without a home for next season, including notable former champions and current playoff contenders Matt Kenseth and Busch. It is possible that Patrick doesn't return as a driver after this season ends.

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Danica Patrick at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn, Michigan. (Getty Images) Icon Sportswire

"I wish SHR the best of luck with their new sponsorship and driver. Thanks for the memories," Patrick continued. "Right now, my focus is on the remainder of the 2017 season and finishing the year strong.  I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future."

Patrick has participated in 180 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races the past five years in addition to 61 Xfinity Series races. In both series she owns seven top 10 finishes in addition to a 2013 Daytona 500 pole. Prior to her jump to NASCAR, Patrick was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar as well as the first woman to race and win in the series. She was the IndyCar Series Most Popular Driver from 2005-10 and the NASCAR Nationwide Series (now Xfinity) Most Popular driver in 2012.

If she does not return to the track next season, perhaps Patrick could pursue a career in the fitness industry. She already has her clothing line "Warrior by Danica Patrick," and has posted frequent workout sessions and plans on her Instagram account.

Inhale life, exhale everything else. It's amazing how great just breathing and stretching can feel. ✨Sunday vibes.

A post shared by Danica Patrick (@danicapatrick) on

In the meantime, Patrick plans to race in this weekend's playoff race at Chicagoland Speedway. While she will not be competing for a championship, Patrick will be able to aid teammates Kevin Harvick and Busch, as well as boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr., in their pursuit for a title.

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