Speculation has increased that Danica Patrick and Stewart Haas Racing may part ways and agree to end their contract one year early.
Now, the issue has moved from speculation to reality, and Patrick herself has addressed the issue. She acknowledged that her tenure at SHR could end after this season because of a lack of sponsorship.
"There's no buyout needed," she told USAToday. "I don't have a sponsor. It's contingent on the sponsor."
There has been reports that Patrick and SHR would have to negotiate an end to their agreement, but clearly, that's not the case. No sponsor means to ride.
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SHR is struggling with sponsorship, which it will need to keep its team going. The Sports Daily reported:
Patrick's nearly decade-long relationship with GoDaddy that spanned back to her time in IndyCar ended after '15, and SHR has run into challenges securing primary sponsorship. Nature's Bakery earlier this year backed away from its three-year, $45M deal after one season.
That sponsorship trouble, in part, has led to Busch being dropped. Monster, the energy drink company, has been the primary sponsor of Busch's car the last two seasons and, according to NBC Sports, is weighing its future with NASCAR.
Patrick has been on a bit of a hot streak lately -- she's just finished a trinity of top-20 finishes, which is only the third time that's happened in Patrick's career, and she's achieved a career record with four consecutive top-15 finishes.
SHR has already said it wouldn't renew Kurt Busch's contract, though it's possible he could be back.