During a press conference at the scene of NASCAR’s final race of the season in Homestead-Miami, NASCAR’s own Wonder Woman, Danica Patrick, dropped the bombshell that the 2017 NASCAR season would indeed be her last full time season. Directly after saying this; however, she announced that she would be running two races next year, the Daytona 500, and the Indy 500.
Both the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 are the biggest races of the year for NASCAR and Indycar respectively, and Danica is no stranger to both of them. From 2005 to 2011, she raced full time in Indycar, with her one win coming in Japan in 2008. In her first Indy 500, she managed to qualify 4th and run very well, but she would lose the lead with 7 laps to go en-route to finishing 4th. Her best ever finish in the Indy 500 was 3rd, which she recorded in 2009. It still remains the best Indy 500 finish by a female driver. While the team she’s driving for has yet to be announced, as long as the car is competitive, Danica can definitely contend for the win here.
Danica switched from Indycar to NASCAR, and started racing full time in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2013, and managed to qualify 1st for her first race, the Daytona 500; which marked the first time any woman had ever sat on the pole in the NASCAR Cup Series. Due to the nature of how restrictor plate races are run, Danica would quickly get shuffled out of the lead, but manage to finish 7th. In her career, Daytona and Talladega have been two tracks where Danica has consistently been able to contend for the win, but she has unfortunately come up short every time thus far.
Now, many people will argue that Danica was just in NASCAR as a marketing tool, but to many fans she was much more than that. She was an inspirational figure that was able to show many young fans, especially female, that you can accomplish whatever you desire, as long as you work hard enough and believe in yourself. She didn’t get to where she was by luck or money, she got there because she earned her spot. Danica never let anyone tell her what she could or couldn’t do, and without her, there is going to be a large void in the NASCAR driver community.