Richard Petty Motorsports loses primary sponsor to Stewart-Haas Racing

Richard Petty Motorsports loses primary sponsor to Stewart-Haas Racing

Danica Patrick will depart Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season after driving for five years with the team in the hugely popular NASCAR stock vehicle series.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons", Patrick wrote. Patrick posted a statement on her Facebook page Tuesday saying her time with Stewart-Haas "had come to an end" due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season. Patrick did not address whether or not she will seek to race for a new team next season. 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 in the series.

Earlier this season she told NASCAR.com: "I said this previous year, it's not any fun to run 20th or 25th". Aric Almirola drives the No. 43 for RPM at this time, although the SHR statement only said details of the new driver would be announced at a later date. She had one Top 10 finish at Dover in June, but she ended the year with five consecutive finishes outside of the Top 20. 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. The following season is when she got a full-time ride in the Cup Series driving for Stewart-Haas Racing in the #10 Chevrolet, which is now the #10 Ford.

"The decision to leave Richard Petty Motorsports and join Stewart-Haas Racing was hard, but we feel this move will improve our competitiveness on the track and strengthen our position as a leading consumer packaged goods company", Smithfield said in a statement.

With Danica Patrick out, who's in?

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Which SHR driver Smithfield will sponsor in 2018 was not announced, though the company indicated in a statement that the team may be changing its driver roster. While not likely racing next year, she likely will remain a familiar face at the race track as boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. competes for Roush Fenway Racing.

"Just keep digging. Just letting it flow", she said of her approach. Patrick also said at the time that she would consider racing for another team. "... Stop worrying about how you think everything should go and just let it happen".

Danica made her NASCAR debut in the XFINITY Series in 2010, driving a part-time schedule for JR Motorsports whilst continuing with her IndyCar series duties.

"I have no interest, as I've said for years now, to run 25th".

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