Danica Patrick is at a crossroads in her NASCAR career.

Patrick announced Tuesday that her partnership with Stewart-Haas Racing had ended, leaving her future in NASCAR in question.

Her breakup with Stewart-Haas Racing came after Patrick’s primary sponsor, Nature’s Bakery, stepped back from a three-year contract in January after one season.

Many people are speculating that this could mean the end of Patrick’s racing career.

But the 35-year-old driver shot down rumors that she was retiring Wednesday.

“That’s just not the case. It really just means that I’m not going to be driving for that team anymore. I’ve said for the last year or two that, you know, I’ll do it as long as it’s fun,” Patrick said. “What’s fun is doing well. So, if I feel like I have an opportunity to be in a car that’s going to give me the ability to have fun, which is run well, then that’s what I’m doing to do.”

Co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart, offered Patrick his “unwavering” support. He called Patrick “fearless” in a Facebook post and applauded her for always being willing to take on a challenge.

Patrick said she appreciated Stewart’s support.

“It’s nice to hear, but I’ve also driven for him for a long time,” Patrick said. “I would hope and think that if he didn’t think highly of me, that wouldn’t have been a position that I would’ve been in for the last six years.”

Patrick was at the top of her
IndyCar career when she decided to make the jump to NASCAR’s top level in 2011. She’s the circuit’s only female driver but has no wins or top-five finishes.

This season, Patrick is ranked a career-low 28th in the standings.

Patrick was persistent that the shakeup in her sponsorships and the uncertainty of her future will not be a distraction in the 10 races remaining.

“With the goals, nothing has changed, no matter what, which is just to perform at the highest level and try to win,” Patrick said. “[I’m going to] just focus on the job at hand and let all the people that do the business handle the business and we’ll see what comes next.”

If Patrick decides to retire from racing, she has a lot of other business ventures to fall back on. She launched a clothing line in January and has a book coming out next year.

Patrick is also on the road promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. Her sponsor, Aspen Dental, hosted an event Wednesday in Streeterville that offered free go-kart rides and the opportunity to receive driving tips from Patrick.

 Follow me on Twitter@madkenney.

Email: mkenney@suntimes.com

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