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Danica Patrick’s Double: A Farewell to NASCAR

Although Danica Patrick's NASCAR career has concluded, her contributions and legacy will last a lifetime.

Although Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career has concluded, her contributions and legacy will last a lifetime.

“Danica Sue, this is for you!”  Those were the words said to Danica Patrick by Darrell Waltrip when the cars took to the track for “The Great American Race.”

Just a few months ago in Homestead-Miami Speedway, NASCAR’s lone female full-time driver announced her retirement from the track. Amid tears, 35-year-old Danica Patrick said she was done, but she still had two more races left: the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500.

It was dubbed the “Danica Double” which comprised of two of the biggest races in motorsports.

More importantly, they were the two races that made Danica Patrick into a household name.

So the Story Begins

Danica Patrick stepped into the IndyCar Series as a fairly unknown racer in 2005. However, that didn’t last long.

By and large, Patrick’s showing in the 2005 Indy 500 kicked off what became known as “Danica Mania.”  Suddenly, the accolades and “firsts” for a woman in motorsports began piling up.

Patrick ran the full schedule in the IndyCar Series from 2005-2011.  Sadly, her final race was the season finale in ’11, a race laden with tragedy after Dan Wheldon was killed in a 15-car pileup at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

During her time in open-wheels, she ran 115 races, won one race (Twin Ring Motegi in 2008), seven podiums, three poles, and ranked a career high fifth in the points standings in 2009.

From IndyCar to NASCAR

Meanwhile, Patrick got her first taste of stock cars in 2010 as she competed in the ARCA Series’ season opener at Daytona with JR Motorsports where she finished sixth.  In addition, she ran two part-time seasons, from 2010-2011, in the then-called Nationwide Series with JR Motorsports while also running the full IndyCar schedule.

In 2012, Patrick attempted to do what many others had tried, and most had failed, to do before her, make the permanent jump from open-wheel to stock cars.

Patrick ran the full 2012 season with JR Motorsports and a limited Cup engagement with Stewart-Haas Racing. That season, she posted four top-10s and one pole to score a 10th place points standings result.

From 2013 to ’17, Patrick moved to the Cup season full-time with SHR. She kicked off her rookie efforts with the coveted pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500.  In that race, she ran near the front, led five laps, and finished eighth.

Arguably, Patrick’s Cup career was largely uneventful. While she made major strides for women in motorsports, her statistics didn’t live up to the hype that many in the media put on her.

As it were, in five full-time seasons with SHR, Patrick posted seven top-10’s, zero top-five finishes, and her only pole came at the 2013 Daytona 500.  Furthermore, her highest finish in the standings was 24th in 2015 and 2016 in 191 starts.

That said, Patrick broke many records during her time on track, including a sterling sixth place finish in the 2014 Oral-B USA 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.  To this date, this result by Patrick remains the best finish for a female racer in Cup racing.

The Legacy of Danica Patrick

While her on-track performance may not have been anything to brag about, Patrick’s appeal on and off track brought many newcomers to NASCAR. As a matter of fact, many of her fans are young children.

For this reason, it was never a surprise to see throngs of young kids surrounding her car on pit road before a race and sporting her colors at the track. Her involvement in motorsports has inspired countless young kids, boys and girls, to step in to a racecar.

Patrick’s fans, namely called the DanicaPack, are strong in numbers. Sure, it never mattered where she finished at the end of the race.  Ultimately, they stood by her no matter what.

One thing that has always stuck out about Patrick’s time at the race track is everything she did to insure her youngest fans were taken care of.  As it were, Danica Patrick’s time in a stock car may be over, but I think we will be seeing the her influence in this sport for years to come.

As Danica Patrick stepped out of the car for the final time, many of her biggest fans took to social media to share their memories of their driver in green.

Fan Memories Through Photos

Wishing Danica the best in her future endeavors! Ill never forget when i got to meet her and sit on her pit box in 2016 -@JakeValasek

Danica has been a role model for my son and myself. She’s taught us about determination and moving forward from setbacks. Sending photos from meeting DP in 2016. -@TigerStormer

She was so genuine and nice and took time to talk with my daughter and take pics! A moment we will never forget!! -@TonyBoloney88 and @DanicaFan58

Best of luck to Danica in her next chapter! She has always been so kind and an inspiration. It’s been so fun watching her race. I’m looking forward to supporting her off-track activities such as Pretty Intense, I’ve become so much healthier since starting the program! -@Thomas71096

Thank you DanicaPatrick for the great times during Nascar Weekend in Las Vegas. #DanicaPack Thank you @DanicaPatrick. Some days good, some days bad. But all unforgettable. I’ll never forget this day at The MGM Las Vegas. See you in May for the Indy500 -@RiegertRacing67

(Danica Wins At Twin Ring Motegi) It was April 21, 2008 and Indy Twin Ring Motegi was on really late the previous night. During my morning briefing officers say, so Danica won last night. I said what, stop pulling my leg. They handed me a USA Today and I screamed and cried with all of them clapping. -@BajaniC

We’ll miss you at KS best wishes for the future. -@RDFowler

Took this shot at the Fall Dover Race during driver intros. -@The_EVP

Me and my god son at Danica last race in new Hampshire we wish her well and thank her for being a role model for all the little girl out there. -@MicheleSmith107

Danica, thank you for everything you’ve done for NASCAR. You’re a great, inspirational individual and your determination does not go unnoticed. Thank you for appreciating your fans. I only wish I had the opportunity to meet you. -@Xx_Anywhere13

I’ve been a huge fan since day one and will continue to be beyond racing. I’m excited for what’s next but also sad to see her go! Huge inspiration and role model! I thank her for everything she’s done! -@MelFasoli

More Fan Memories

-@Betty27_2: I don’t have the picture proof memories that a lot have. But I was able to get to the autograph signing at Brickyard a few years back, and that was special for me cause I had been waiting YEARS to finally get her autograph. I get up there, I’m all decked out in my gear, and I’m nervous as heck, cause this is my favorite driver of all time. She looks up at me and genuinely smiles at me. And that made my day for the whole week. Just one smile cause I knew she meant it.

Then came the Brickwalk. I was hoping to get one signature on the Walk…hers. And I almost missed it, but she came back down and signed my picture. So anyone who says she doesn’t care about her fans? Is lying, because as a fan? She made my week…in fact my entire month just by how I felt after leaving that race. Not as much as others, but…I’ll still cherish that week at the Brickyard because of how she treated me as a fan. And that’s one of the reasons she’s always been my favorite driver.

-@CSRA_prsn: Goodbye and good luck, Ms. @DanicaPatrick!

-@blakehalltexas: Danica proved to the world that anyone can do what they desire if they persist and work hard!

-@bubbie1964: Our entire family was a dedicated fan. Thank you for signing my tweet last year. I wish you all the happiness in the world. Keep posting your recipes.

-@Brianna_sixx: Never got lucky enough to meet Danica, but want to thank her for getting me seriously into not only NASCAR, but Indy too. Racing is my love. I’ve always watched racing since I was a kid, but she made me watch it religiously.

Danica Patrick’s Impact

As Patrick prepares to throw her own checkered flag and step out of the car for good, many of her fellow drivers, teammates, and race tracks are reaching out to say thank you.

So, in following suit, I can’t end this piece without saying thank you, as well.

Thank you, Danica, for showing us that we, as women, can do anything and all we have to do is grab our gonads and go for it.

They say the best things are left unsaid. I say, the best things need to be put down on paper...or the internet in this case. I discovered NASCAR and the world of motorsports in college and it changed my life... and my career path. Now, when people ask me to describe myself, I tell them that I am a 20-something that has an obsession with racecars.

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