Smithfield shifts racing sponsorship to Stewart-Haas

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Patrick posted a statement on her Facebook page saying her time with Stewart-Haas "had come to an end" due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season.

SHR said Tuesday it signed Smithfield as a sponsor but did not name a new driver.

Danica Patrick will depart Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season after driving for five years with the team in the hugely popular NASCAR stock auto series.

SHR is regarded as one of NASCAR's upper-echelon organizations, having won Cup Series championships in 2011 (Tony Stewart) and 2014 (Kevin Harvick).

"I'm sure they're saying everything from really great to really very bad, and that's just part of my daily life", she said. "I don't drive because I love the thrill of getting sideways". Her vehicle owner Tony Stewart released a statement supporting Patrick and teammate Kevin Harvick said Wednesday that he hopes Patrick continues to compete in NASCAR.

When told of the comment, her then-crew chief, Tony Gibson, understood what she was saying but noted that the key to being fast is to be able to drive the auto when it's uncomfortable. While not likely racing next year, she likely will remain a familiar face at the race track as boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. competes for Roush Fenway Racing.

"Making the jump from INDYCAR to NASCAR is not easy", Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champ with 49 race wins on his resume, added, "yet she had the courage to do so and put up better numbers than a lot of other drivers who have tried to make the same transition".

Patrick spent part of her Wednesday doing the business work of NASCAR, driving go-karts in downtown Chicago for Aspen Dental to encourage people to overcome emotional barriers to going to the dentist. "In NASCAR, you're better off with a group of guys or girls that are working day and night and diligently for you". She was never competitive in her five seasons as a Cup driver, including this one. But this season, Patrick has not been seeing much success on the racetrack. She is still the only woman to be on the pole for any of the 2,524 Cup races.

She spent seven years in IndyCar before jumping to NASCAR. "NASCAR fans will miss her badly in time". Particularly this season, she really started having sponsorship issues, so even ignoring her poor results, her ride for next season was in doubt because of it.

"It's nice to hear, but I've also driven for him for a long time", Patrick said.

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