Tony Stewart supports Danica Patrick after news she won't return in 2018

On Wednesday, after Danica Patrick announced on her Facebook page Tuesday that she would not return to Stewart-Haas Racing for 2018, team owner and retired NASCAR champion Tony Stewart also took to Facebook to issue a statement.

"I've always been a believer in Danica's ability as a racecar driver and that continues to be the case," Stewart said of the 35-year-old veteran. "She's one of the most fearless people I've ever met. She has never backed down from a challenge. In fact, she's sought out new challenges throughout her career, and that's what brought her to NASCAR and Stewart-Haas Racing.

It is still up in there air whether one of those new challenges will include racing next season. Patrick has averaged 1.4 top-10 finishes a season over her five-year career at the Cup level and cited lack of sponsorship as a reason for not returning next season.

Sep 28, 2014; Dover, DE, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Danica Patrick (left) and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Tony Stewart (right) prior to the AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. USA TODAY Sports

"Making the jump from INDYCAR to NASCAR is not easy, yet she had the courage to do so and put up better numbers than a lot of other drivers who have tried to make that same transition," Stewart continued. "I'm proud of how hard Danica has worked during her time at Stewart-Haas Racing, and she continues to work hard.

Patrick will continue to race for the remainder of playoff events, despite not competing for a championship. While the focus shifts to drivers like Martin Truex Jr., Kyle Larson, Kyle Busch and others competing for a title, Patrick will still have a chance to become the first woman to win at the highest level of racing.

"My support for Danica is unwavering," Stewart added. "We're going to end this season strong and make the most of these last 10 races."

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