As the most well-known female driver in IndyCar and NASCAR, Danica Patrick, has truly been a leader in her field. But now she’s ready for a change.
At an emotional press conference, Patrick explained that she’s planning to compete in the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500 next year, but after that, full-time racing is over for her, according to Nascar.com.
“So, this will be my last season as a full-time driver,” she told reporters.
“My sister told me I was supposed to get emotional,” she then said as she broke down in tears. “I said I wouldn’t.”
After a very long pause, she continued, “But I’m grateful for all the opportunities. I’m thankful for Dale and Kelly and Bob Parsons from GoDaddy for getting me into NASCAR.”
“Thank you to Tony and Jean,” she added before sobbing. "Too many of you here. I'm really excited. Actually, I have something really exciting to tell you. I don't feel like I was necessarily pushed into this. I feel like I should be doing this."
"Something we just get kind of nudged there," she tried to explain. "I was definitely faced with situations at the beginning of the year that I'd never faced before. I never had sponsor issues. But it made me think about things."
"So I'm excited about the next phase, trust me," she continued before tearfully thanking her family.
She said the two big races next year would be "a great way to cap [her career] off." She added that she knows which teams she'll be racing for but would not reveal details yet to the media.
Asked about her legacy, Patrick replied, "What I've always wanted is to just be remembered as a great driver. Then remembered as a girl. I don't care if you remember me as a girl — of course, I am, it's pretty obvious. But to be remembered as a great driver. That's it."
Asked what made her decide to compete in the Indy 500 again, she admitted, "I never thought I would do it. I really didn't. I always thought in my head 'never,' but I never said 'never' because I know better."
As for why she's semi-retiring, she answered, "As I said to many of you years ago, 'If it's going to not get better, I don't want to do it because it's not fun.' Here I am. It's not fun."
Danica also mentioned problems with crew chiefs being one of the reasons why the sport isn't fun for her anymore. She decided Indy was where she wanted to finish up instead of Daytona because it was the only idea that got her excited.
"I think it's going to be awesome," she predicted.
Asked about what she'll be doing next after the 2018 season, she said she hasn't gone down the road of doing TV and other media appearances as a career. It doesn't interest her at this moment. In general, the 35-year-old was vague about any plans after 2018.
Watch the full press conference below (Parental warning: Brief, mild language):
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