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Danica Patrick will retire, end career with Daytona 500, Indy 500 runs

By The Sports Xchange
Danica Patrick will retire, end career with Daytona 500, Indy 500 runs
Danica Patrick catches her breath between practice runs for the 2017 Brickyard 400, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on July 22, 2017 in Indianapolis, Indiana. File photo by Edwin Locke/UPI | License Photo

HOMESTEAD, Fla. -- An emotional Danica Patrick declared Friday that she will race two more times next year and then retire as a driver after the 2018 Indianapolis 500.

Patrick made the announcement at a press conference at Homestead-Miami Speedway. She will also participate in the Daytona 500 in February prior to May's Indy 500.

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The decision comes after Patrick was unable to find a NASCAR arrangement for the 2018 season.

"Nothing that was being presented excited me, then about three weeks ago, I just blurted out, 'What about Indy? Let's end it with the Indy 500,'" Patrick said between tears at the press conference. "This ignites something in me. But I am done after May.

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"Everyone needs to put their mind there. My plan is to be at Indy, and then I'm done."

Patrick, 35, was let go by Stewart-Haas Racing even though she had one season remaining on her contract. SHR replaced her with Aric Almirola.

She attempted to find another ride but there wasn't much interest in a driver who has never won a NASCAR race and stands a disappointing 27th in this season's points standings. Patrick's highest NASCAR season finish is 24th.

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"I feel like this is where my life should be headed, and sometimes we just get nudged there," Patrick said. "Sometimes it's big nudges, and sometimes it's little. But I definitely was 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. And I'm excited about the next phase, trust me."

Patrick spent seven years as an IndyCar driver before making the move to NASCAR in 2012. Her best finish in a NASCAR race was when she placed sixth in Atlanta in 2014.

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Her lone IndyCar victory was in 2008 at a race in Japan. She also finished third in the 2009 Indianapolis 500.

But there were times where Patrick became frustrated that she couldn't find the speed to compete with the elite NASCAR racers.

"It's super competitive," Patrick said. "It's twice the field of IndyCars, 40 instead of 20, basically. The cars make a big difference. I feel like there's a lot out of your control as a driver, and that's frustrating. I tried every approach I could to figure out how to make the car go fast.

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"Do I push people? Do I let them do their job? Do I question them? Do I ask for other things? I tried every approach, and, really, all that ended up happening was I lost my crew chief the first time around with Tony Gibson. I didn't end up wanting that to happen. So I was like 'Well, shoot, nothing really worked.' So here I am."

Despite the lack of on-track success, Patrick has been popular with advertisers over the years. Her former IndyCar sponsor GoDaddy produced Super Bowl advertisements featuring her that were both controversial and racy in nature.

Patrick has posted seven top-10 finishes in 189 career Cup starts entering Sunday's Ford Eco-Boost 400 (on NBC at 3 p.m. ET) at Homestead.

Editor's note: NASCAR Wire Service contributed to this report.

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