With most of the NASCAR fan base focused on which driver will claim the final spot in the Championship 4 race at Homestead, many people haven’t noticed that another significant milestone is happening this weekend at Phoenix International Raceway.
When Danica Patrick gets the behind the wheel of the No. 10 Ford and takes the green flag for Stewart-Haas Racing, it will mark 250 combined NASCAR national series starts, making her the first female driver to accomplish this feat. Patrick made her debut in the XFINITY Series in 2010 where she started 61 races over five years. Sunday’s Cup Series event will be her 189th start in NASCAR’s top-level of racing.
Unfortunately for Patrick, this career milestone has been overshadowed by the fact she won’t be driving the No. 10 Ford Fusion after this year. Stewart-Haas Racing has already announced that veteran driver Aric Almirola will take over the No. 10 in 2018.
There was a rumor that Patrick could join her boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. at Roush, but that gossip quickly was squashed when President of Roush Fenway Racing, Steve Newark, said the organization already signed a full team of drivers for 2018.
This leaves the No. 27 at Richard Childress Racing and No. 34 of Front Row Racing as the two most prominent rides that currently don’t have drivers.
With her strong fan base and inherent marketability, it seems likely Patrick would at least considered for one of those positions, but it becomes more unlikely that she’ll return to NASCAR with each passing week she goes unsigned.