Danica Patrick won't worry about NASCAR future, lack of sponsorship

KANNAPOLIS, N.C. -- Danica Patrick doesn't know whether she will drive a race car next season. She is at peace with that. But don't take that to mean she doesn't care.

The 35-year-old Patrick, in her fifth full season of NASCAR Cup racing, knows she won't be back at Stewart-Haas Racing next year if she or the organization can't land a sponsor. She is letting those who work for her -- she is represented by Excel's Alan Zucker -- handle any negotiations and not fretting over what will happen.

"Quite simply, I just have faith [that] what is meant to be, will be," Patrick said Monday at SHR. "I believe in certain things like the law of detachment -- detaching from the outcomes that I think are supposed to happen and just letting things go and letting things flow.

"The law of least resistance -- just let it go, stop trying to force and have in your heart what you want and just work really hard at what you're doing. There's nothing good [that] can come from letting things spiral."

Throughout her racing career, Patrick has showed signs that she was letting things spiral.

"Trust me, I get mad," Patrick said. "I still throw things. I try not to do it in front of people. I still get fired up. ... But there was so much when I was younger that happened with me getting mad, especially outside the car, walking around and things like that. I felt like if I didn't portray a displeasure with anything but the best, but first place, then I was somehow showing people that I didn't think I could do it."

Anyone who listens to Patrick's in-car radio during a race knows she can get frustrated when she feels wronged or can't find the handle of the race car. But she doesn't let that frustration show on social media.

"I don't have to look like I hate everything and everybody and be awfully unhappy about everything to do well on track," Patrick said. "Sometimes it would get in the way if I was too unhappy.

"Me being more at peace with everything and not getting so fired up at certain points in time is just really because it's unproductive and I don't need to prove to people that I care."

Patrick on Monday unveiled her paint scheme for next month's race at Darlington, where she will honor former NASCAR Cup owner Robert Yates, who more than a decade ago had talked to Ford executives about the possibility of Patrick driving for him.

At that time, Patrick was on an open-wheel path. She transitioned from an Indy car to a NASCAR career full time in 2012 after two seasons of running a partial NASCAR schedule.

She hasn't achieved the success she has wanted, finishing 24th in the standings in 2015 and 2016. She is 28th in the standings this year but had a recent run of four consecutive top-15 finishes.

"I want to continue racing if I have an opportunity to do well," Patrick said. "I have no interest, as I've said for years now, to run 20th to 25th. That's not fun.

"If I don't feel like I can have the opportunity to move on from there and have a better opportunity, then honestly, I don't care [about racing] just because it's not fun. I don't drive because I love the thrill of getting sideways."

Patrick originally was set to race through 2018 when Nature's Bakery signed a three-year deal to sponsor her starting in 2016. But after the fig bar company terminated the deal in January, she needs to land anchor sponsorship for the 2018 season to remain at SHR.

"She commands an awful lot of viewers that want to know what she's doing," team co-owner Gene Haas said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. "She's like a Tiger Woods. Whether she does good or she does bad, people are always interested in what she's doing. ... I still think she has a lot of value. If a sponsor wants to sell product, she's great at that."