When Danica Patrick made her announcement in November without knowing the teams for which she would be driving in her 2018 races, the situation had “long-drawn-out process” written all over it.
Two days before the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida, 35-year-old Danica Patrick announced that her full-time Cup Series career, which had lasted five seasons, would be coming to an end following the conclusion of the season.
However, she also announced that she intended to drive in the 2018 Daytona 500 in the Cup Series and the Indianapolis 500 in IndyCar, thus putting off her official retirement from racing until Memorial Day weekend in 2018.
But when it was made clear that she did not yet have anything lined up for either of those two races as far as teams go and Chip Ganassi Racing, the team that many experts deemed her likely landing spot for both races since the team are one of two with a team in both the Cup Series and IndyCar, was surprised to hear the news, this situation had the making of becoming a long-drawn-out process.
More than five weeks later, that is exactly what it has become. There is still nothing confirmed as far as Patrick’s teams in the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 go, and her talks with Chip Ganassi Racing have come a halt.
While we may have been able to fool ourselves early on, does this really surprise anybody?
Five years ago, maybe it would have. Sponsors would have been lined up waiting to sign with her, and her getting a ride would have been a no-brainer whether she had anything confirmed at the time of her announcement or not.
But this is 2017 now. A huge reason, aside of her lackluster results, that she is leaving Stewart-Haas Racing in the Cup Series as a full-time driver after five seasons is because of sponsorship issues. Things are not the way they used to be for the 35-year-old.
So when Patrick made the announcement that she would be driving in those two races next season but did not have anything lined up as far as teams go, you just knew it wouldn’t be that simple.
Now more than five weeks removed from that announcement, which has proven to be unofficial, how much more long-drawn-out will this process be? Will she officially land a ride for either one of those two races, or will she call it quits and retire before then?
Will the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 feature Danica Patrick, or will all of the hype surrounding her anticipated attempts in those races have been for nothing? This situation is set to unfold completely within the next few weeks, as the first of those two races, the Daytona 500, is set to take place in under two months.