Danica Patrick, the fiery and vastly popular race car driver, will retire in 2018 after competing in motorsports’ two biggest races, the Daytona 500 in February and Indianapolis 500 in May.
“I am done after May,” Patrick said on the eve of her last race this season. “Everyone needs to put their mind there. My plan is to be at Indy and then I’m done.”
Patrick currently competes full-time in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, driving the No. 10 Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick’s contract will end Sunday after the season-ending Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series race at Homestead-Miami.
Patrick, 35, has established many firsts for female drivers and is the most successful woman driver in the history of open-wheel racing. Her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 is the only women’s victory in an IndyCar Series race. She placed third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500 is the highest finish by a woman.
Patrick ran the Indy 500 from 2005 through 2011. She was the first woman to lead laps in the storied race when she led 19 as a rookie.
In 2013, Patrick became the first female NASCAR driver to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole, turning in the fastest qualifying lap since 1990—qualifying for the Daytona 500. Her eighth place in the 2013 Daytona 500 is the highest finish for a woman.
“I know I always said I’d never go back to Indy, and I was always being honest,” she said. “Well, things change. I know now you can never say never. I’d been going through this in my head and kept asking myself, ‘How am I going to get the words out and say it’s over?’ And trust me, I lost my (stuff) a few times over that. “But this seems right, and this seems good.”
When Patrick announced in September that she would not be back with Stewart-Haas Racing, it prompted various opinions about her racing future.
According to an article in USA Today, Patrick is considering joining NBC Sports as a commentator. Early in her career, Patrick appeared in several commercials for Go Daddy. She also was a pit reporter in June for an Xfinity Series race that aired on Fox Sports 1.