Danica Patrick was easily one of the most popular (and marketable) drivers in motorsports history. Toward the end of her seven-year run in the IndyCar Series, where she recorded one victory and seven podium finishes, Patrick began her transition to stock cars, first competing in the NASCAR Nationwide Series (now the Xfinity Series) before moving to the Cup Series on a full-time basis in 2013.
She enjoyed a five-year run in the Cup Series before the final race of her NASCAR career, the 2018 Daytona 500, which certainly didn’t go as she’d planned as a disastrous wreck ended her swan song prematurely.
Danica Patrick never won a NASCAR race but did make history by becoming the first female driver to sit on the pole at the Daytona 500
After competing in 10 races in the NASCAR Cup Series in 2012, Danica Patrick joined the premiership on a full-time basis the following year and made some history right out of the gate as she became the first female driver to ever clinch the pole position at the Daytona 500.
Patrick maintained a spot in the top 10 throughout the majority of the race (she led for five laps) but fell from third to eighth in the final three laps. But despite the dropoff, the eighth-place finish made her the highest-placing woman in the history of “The Great American Race.”
The 2013 Daytona 500 was Patrick’s only top-10 finish of the season but she recorded triple that amount the following year en route to a 28th-place finish in the Cup Series standings. She finished 24th in the standings in each of the next two seasons and then again finished 28th in her final full season in 2017.
Danica Patrick never won a NASCAR race — her best finish was a sixth-place finish in Atlanta in 2014 — but did record seven top-10 finishes during her five-year run and, more importantly, became an inspiration to young women everywhere. She earned more than $12.3 million on the track and so much more away from it in endorsements and was easily one of the most popular drivers in NASCAR despite never collecting a checkered flag.
Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career ended in a violent wreck at the 2018 Daytona 500
Ahead of the 2018 Daytona 500, Danica Patrick announced that it would be the final race of her NASCAR career as she wanted to put more focus into her many business ventures.
She began her final Daytona 500 in 28th position but had moved into the top 20 at the midway point of the race. But on lap 102, her stock-car career came to an end as she was involved in a violent, seven-car wreck that knocked her out of the race.
The sequence began when Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski made contact with one another, which sent Elliott spinning into the wall. Patrick was unable to avoid Elliott’s No. 9 car as it drifted back down the bank and slammed right into it, ending her day and her run in NASCAR as a whole. Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, and Martin Truex Jr. were also involved in the wreck and Truex Jr. was the only driver that was able to continue.
Danica Patrick received medical attention at the infield care center but thankfully didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
She also wrecked at the 2018 Indy 500, the final race of her career
While the 2018 Daytona 500 was the final race of Danica Patrick’s NASCAR career, she closed out her motorsports career a few months later by running in the Indy 500 one last time.
Unfortunately, however, that race ended the same way the Daytona 500 did…with a wreck. Patrick started the day in seventh position and was still running in the top 16 when she spun out on lap 67 and slammed into the wall. Again, thankfully, she didn’t suffer any serious injuries.
Stats courtesy of Racing Reference