Danica Patrick Retiring From Full-Time NASCAR Racing, Adding To Star Turnover

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(CBS) — An emotional Danica Patrick announced Friday that she would not be returning to NASCAR as a full-time driver next season. Patrick plans to run in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 as a way to cap off her racing career.

Despite never winning a race in her Monster Energy Cup Series career, Patrick achieved multiple milestones to cement her place in the sport’s history. She is the first woman to qualify on the pole for a Daytona 500 and the first to lead in NASCAR’s biggest race. Before her move to stock cars, Patrick saw tons of success in IndyCar, becoming the first woman to win a race and being named the most popular driver from 2005-10.

“I don’t care if you remember me as a girl,” Patrick said after wiping away tears at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Friday. She also noted that she hopes to remembered as a good driver.

Over five years in NASCAR’s highest level, Patrick finished in the top 10 seven times and has spent the majority of her career either in an alliance with or driving for Stewart-Haas Racing. It was announced that Patrick would be replaced by Aric Almirola in early November.

Patrick’s retirement is another major change in the landscape of NASCAR following this season. After Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. — the most popular driver for more than a decade — and former Cup champion Matt Kenseth will also hang up their fire suits. Junior will have to start from the rear of the field Sunday after changing engines in practice while Kenseth is coming off an emotional victory at Phoenix.

“I never say never,” Patrick said. “After Indy, that’s the end.”

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