Why did Danica Patrick quit racing?

Danica Patrick walks in the Paddock before the 2022 F1 Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Danica Patrick walks in the Paddock before the 2022 F1 Miami Grand Prix at the Miami International Autodrome (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Danica Patrick, the most successful woman in American motorsports history, is one who certainly makes her presence felt in whatever she does. The now-40-year-old has seen two chapters of the racing world in her prime, a feat rarely achieved by racing drivers in the modern day and age.

Born in Beloit, Wisconsin, Patrick started racing go-karts in 1990s, with immediate success. She went on to win the World Karting Association Grand National Championship three times. This led to the racing bug officially biting her, with her family realizing her talent behind the wheel of a car.

After dropping out of school to pursue her racing career in the United Kingdom, Patrick competed in the likes of Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall series. After returning to the USA in 2001, the former Rahal Letterman Racing driver was introduced to the team's junior Barber Dodge Pro Series, which eventually led to her climbing the ranks into the NTT IndyCar Series in 2005. Her rookie season saw her take 3 pole positions along with the rookie of the year award.

One of the highlights of Danica Patrick's career came when she won the 2006 Indy Japan 300 at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit with Andretti Green Racing. Come 2010, Patrick was already juggling her IndyCar schedule with stock car racing that season. Declining form over the season saw Patrick finally pull the plug on her open-wheeled racing career in 2011 to focus solely on NASCAR.

Starting in the Xfinity Series and advancing into the Cup Series, Patrick became the first woman to take the pole in the Cup Series in 2013. She has also amassed 7 top-10 finishes in her NASCAR career before retiring from the sport altogether.

So why did Danica Patrick retire?

Danica Patrick finally hung up her racing overalls after the 2017 NASCAR Cup Series season, however, she did make one final appearance in the 2018 Daytona 500 as well as the 2018 Indy 500. Unfortunately, she crashed out of both races, which sealed her future in the sport for good.

Patrick's final season in stock car racing was riddled with sponsorship issues as the sport headed into 2018. Negotiations with Chip Ganassi Racing also led to a dead end. Without a full-time sponsor to support her profile, Patrick decided that it was time to part ways with Stewart-Haas Racing and the sport as a whole.

Another reason for Patrick's retirement was pinned down due to concerns over her health. With concussions a part of racing and crashing in stock car racing, she began to evaluate how many were enough to have a lasting impact on one's health. She acknowledged retiring if a doctor told her that another hit could mean trouble in 2017 and said:

“If there was someone that told me or, I would hope any other driver, if you have another wreck, you could have a serious problem, then they would [choose to] be out.”

An aspiring businesswoman at the time, Danica Patrick branched out to create her clothing line as well as a wine brand. She now makes media appearances for various racing series, the most notable of which came at the 2022 F1 Miami Grand Prix. She also hosts her own podcast called Pretty Intense, where she likes to interview people from all walks of life.

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