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Her future in NASCAR's top Cup series next season is now an open question. Despite the fact that she's routinely ranked in the mid-to-high 20s overall, Patrick still thinks she can do better. But it also forced changes at Stewart-Haas, which has struggled with sponsorship for three of its four cars, including the No. 10 Ford driven by Patrick.

"Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve", said Patrick. It really just means that I'm not going to be driving for that team anymore. When she met with reporters last month and was asked about a potential IndyCar and NASCAR mixed schedule for 2018, Patrick said she had not heard of any talk of that type of plan. You have to give her credit for that. A nudge from Dillon's No. 3 Chevrolet sent Patrick's No. 10 Chevy into the outside retaining wall, prompting the race's fifth caution flag on Lap 257.

At the heart of it, a sponsor wants return on investment. She has seven top-ten finishes, but she hasn't won a race. Patrick denied the product was a competitor to anything Nature's Bakery sold. Patrick has launched a clothing line, has a book coming out next year and has made a huge transition into promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. She knows what the public discourse is on her career.

Patrick also said while she wants to start a family (she dates NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr.), that wouldn't impact her decision. Patrick, who grew up racing open-wheel cars before making the transition to NASCAR, never found that consistent spot where she was comfortable with the uncomfortable in a stock vehicle.

She'd likely have to be OK with taking a pretty steep pay cut, and she'd have to find a team where she believes she could be competitive.

"I'm proud of how hard Danica has worked during her time at Stewart-Haas Racing, and she continues to work hard".

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New signing Danny Drinkwater has been ruled out after injuring his calf in training on Sunday. Defender and club captain Gary Cahill is back in contention after a three-game domestic ban.

"It's not me. I can tell you that, it's not me", Kenseth said Wednesday during the playoff media day at the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Patrick never backed down was never a shrinking violet.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons".

Yet her announcement did leave plenty of people scratching their heads. Why?

But there is more to the SHR story.

We are extremely disappointed that Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) has chosen to disparage Smithfield - its lead sponsor - after five years and tens of millions of dollars of unwavering financial support, despite years of subpar performance on the track.

Further details of Smithfield's agreement with SHR will be provided at a later date. If Almirola doesn't make the jump with the sponsor, current SHR drivers Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch are in need of sponsorship dollars.