On Aug. 25, 2011, Danica Patrick caused a stir when she announced she would be leaving the open-wheel world to make a full-time run in the NASCAR ranks. A little more than two months later, she joined Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) team owner Tony Stewart to unveil the schedule for a 10-race effort she would run the following season with the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series team.
Patrick made her first official NASCAR Cup Series start in February 2012 in the 54th running of the Daytona 500 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway.
The Kannapolis-based SHR team would expand from a two-car operation to field a third full-time NASCAR Cup Series entry with Patrick and, in the years since she completed her first laps in a NASCAR Cup Series car, Patrick has made history with the No. 10 team.
Patrick became the first woman to win a NASCAR Cup Series pole when she set the fastest time in qualifying for the 2013 Daytona 500.
She then became the first female to lead NASCAR’s most prestigious race when she held the point for laps 90 and 91, and laps 127 to 129.
Patrick became the first woman to lead a NASCAR race under green in that 2013 Daytona 500. Prior to that, Janet Guthrie led five laps under yellow in 1977 at Ontario (Calif.) Motor Speedway.
After earning the pole and leading laps, Patrick finished the 2013 Daytona 500 in eighth place, the highest finishing position ever for a woman in the “Great American Race.”
In 2013, Patrick competed in every NASCAR Cup Series race and became the first female driver to complete an entire season in the series.
Patrick has made the most starts of any female in NASCAR Cup Series competition and, last weekend, she became the first female in NASCAR history to make 250 combined starts in the three NASCAR national series.
With seven top-10 finishes to her credit, Patrick holds the record for the most top-10 finishes by a female in NASCAR Cup Series competition.
Sunday, Patrick will make her 190th NASCAR Cup Series start in the No. 10 entry for SHR. The Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway will mark her last race in the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion with SHR. After five seasons together and one pole award, 64 laps led, seven top-10s, 21 top-15s and 65 top-20 finishes, this chapter of history comes to a close for Patrick and SHR.
DANICA PATRICK, Driver of the No. 10 Aspen Dental Ford Fusion for Stewart-Haas Racing:
Tony Stewart recently said that you have more options than anybody in the garage in that you can do NASCAR, IndyCar, road racing, and you have your entrepreneurial career. Is that how you view things at this stage?
“I’m flattered by that. I work really hard and have really good people around me who believe in me. I have great opportunities, but I think the most important thing is answering, ‘What is it that I want to do?’ I don’t mean that from a conceited standpoint of just pick and choose, but you’ve got to love and want to do whatever it is that you’re doing and have your whole heart in it, or else you probably might not make it happen or you’re not going to give yourself the best opportunity to show what you can do. I think it’s a matter of evaluating options, but really being honest about what makes the most sense, what’s going to feel good, what do I want to do, and then really kind of being the architect of my life.”
What are your overall thoughts on Homestead?
“It’s a mile and a half, but it’s unique in that it doesn’t have the dogleg. I’ve had a couple of solid finishes in the Cup car and I’ve run well there in the Xfinity Series. I ended up second in my last IndyCar race at Homestead, so I’d say it’s a track where I have a decent amount of experience.”