Danica Patrick is one of the biggest household names in auto racing. She has raced in NASCAR and IndyCar, and most fans of any series around the world recognize her and know of her feats.
She is the only woman to ever win an IndyCar race, and the only woman to take a pole position in NASCAR and at the Daytona 500 too.
But for all those achievements, she has had a few bad moments in her career. Plus, there is a small minority of fans that are unnecessarily hostile towards her.
This list contains a few moments from her career that perhaps she would want us to forget about. Despite them though, she has had a successful career and certainly earned her retirement, after her last race at the Indy 500 in 2018.
Plus, she certainly achieved a lot for women in motorsport and showed that women can be successful in racing if they are able to get the right opportunity.
20 Her last race in 2018
It’s fair to say Danica’s last race in NASCAR back in 2018 didn’t go so well. She signed with Premium Motorsports for the first part of the ‘Danica Double’ which included the Indy 500. But her race in Daytona ended in a spectacular accident on lap 102, which saw her place 35th in the final results.
19 Confrontation with Denny Hamlin
Patrick and fellow NASCAR racer Denny Hamlin were good friends, but there was a bit of an argument between the two back in 2015 at Daytona. The pair made slight contact which spun Danica around, and she confronted Denny quite aggressively after the race. After her initial outburst, she composed herself and the pair spoke in a friendlier manner.
18 Unfair advantage?
It had been suggested by a few people that Danica had an unfair advantage. How so? Well, they said that because she was lighter than most drivers, she could go quicker. This was intensified after her IndyCar win at Motegi. It is, of course, utter rubbish, and Danica was able to ignore it for the most part.
17 Pettiness by Richard Petty
Despite being one of the best NASCAR drivers in its history, Richard Petty got petty over Danica once or twice. He said in 2016 that “Patrick ain’t gotten no better or worse” and in 2014, he had said the only way she could win in a NASCAR race was “if every other driver stayed home.” Hardly words one of the most respected men in NASCAR should be saying.
16 Struggling to match IndyCar competitiveness
One thing that will perhaps frustrate some of her fans is how she never managed to replicate her competitiveness in IndyCar, to NASCAR. Indeed, many are left wondering what might have been had she stayed in the IndyCar series beyond 2011. A win, seven podiums, and three wins is not a bad return, and she could have won more races had the luck fallen her way a bit more.
15 Clash with Ricky Stenhouse Jr
Patrick used to date NASCAR competitor Ricky Stenhouse Jr, although the pair have since split up. In 2017 at the Toyota/Save Smart 350 at Sonoma, Patrick was spun around and she, in turn, made contact with Stenhouse’s car. She was actually spun around thanks to Kyle Larson and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
14 Failed to win a race in NASCAR
Not the most ‘out there’ fact but one nevertheless. Danica sadly failed to win a race in NASCAR, despite a pole position at Daytona. It perhaps showed she was better suited to IndyCar’s open-wheel machines than the stock cars of NASCAR. No shame in that though, as it is hard for any driver to transition to another type of car.
13 Booing incident
Back in 2017 at Pocono, Patrick was booed by several fans after security at the track turned them away for autographs. She then defended herself from the booing, stating. My job is not to sign autographs, right? Booing hurts my feelings. I’m a f****** person, you know what I mean?”. While maybe not the most tactful approach, no sports star wants to hear boos. As she said, she’s still a human being.
12 Huge Talladega crash
A huge crash at Talladega back in 2016 was dubbed “the worst of my career” by herself. She was hit from behind my Michael McDowell, then hit Matt Kenseth after sliding in front of the track and then hit the wall on the backstretch before her car caught fire. A wild ride, and a testament to the improved safety in the sport that she was able to walk away without serious injuries.
11 Low top ten percentage finish
Sadly for Danica, she has had a low percentage of top ten finishes in her NASCAR career. In her 191 races in the sport, she was only able to finish in the top ten in 3.6% of those. Again, this perhaps highlights the difficult transition between an open-wheel car and a stock car. The same troubles befell former F1 driver Juan-Pablo Montoya when he left F1 for NASCAR in 2006.
10 Wreck with Landon Cassill
Danica had a slight run-in with Landon Cassill back at Kansas in 2012. She spun him around at turn one, but she wrecked herself in the process. Cassill then proclaimed “rule number one in stock car racing is learning how to wreck someone without wrecking yourself”. Probably a rule a few of the drivers need to know.
9 GoDaddy commercials
Yeah, you probably knew this would come up. Danica was famous for her partnership with GoDaddy, and it’s fair to say the commercials could get a bit…raunchy? They were not tame by any means, although recent ones have been much better after she renewed her deal with the company for her final races in 2018.
8 Did she leave IndyCar too soon?
Not directly NASCAR, but related to the series. As we have said already, she did get some great results in IndyCar. So, did she leave the series too soon? Her speed at Indy for her last race perhaps indicated she could have achieved more. Perhaps not a title, but more wins? Why not! What might have been…
7 Daytona Pole position heightened expectations
Taking pole position for your first full-time NASCAR race is one thing. But when that race is at the Daytona 500, it will really heighten expectations. That’s what happened in 2013 when she became the first female to win the pole in NASCAR and at the Daytona 500. Sadly, her results thereafter were not so lofty.
6 Did not get the farewell she deserved
Her farewell races really were not what her career deserved. She not only crashed out of her last Daytona 500 but out of her last Indy 500 too. She had qualified a brilliant seventh place but was caught out by the skittish handling of the new for 2018 IndyCar’, as were other drivers in the field. She hit the wall at turn two on lap 68, and that’s where her racing career finished.
5 GoDaddy leaving her
Danica lost her longtime partner GoDaddy in 2016, although they reunited for her last two races in 2018. It left her a bit in the lurch, as she at the time then had no full-time funding and it perhaps hurt her chances of continuing in NASCAR full time beyond 2017. She did though secure that last full-time season as well as the ‘Danica Double’ races.
4 Pit incident at Talladega
Danica had a bit of a moment entering the pits at the 2014 GEICO 500 at Talladega. Talladega’s pit entry was very tricky, and she wasn’t able to slow down in time. She missed the entry and sped through the grass and copping a penalty. She said on the radio afterward “I didn’t get any f****** help on the pit in so you saw what happened”.
3 A couple of incidents with Sam Hornish Jr
Danica also had a couple of run-ins with former IndyCar and Indy 500 winner Sam Hornish Jr. A dramatic one occurred at Phoenix in 2012, where Danica drifted up into Hornish and sent him into the wall at turn three on the track. It left Hornish with a lot of damage and put him out of the race.
2 Wonder woman incident
In 2017, Danica drove a “Wonder Woman” branded car at Kansas Speedway. A pretty good PR move, as Danica is surely an inspiration to a lot of women out there. Sadly, it didn’t end well. Joey Logano and Aric Almirola rammed into her car which then went up in flames. Luckily, all involved were okay.
1 Love to hate?
For some reason, a lot of people always seemed to have loved to hate Danica. For whatever reason. True, her results waned after her NASCAR switch but that doesn’t excuse some of the abuse and derogatory remarks she got. All things considered, she seemed happy with how her career panned out and deserved her retirement.
Sources: USA Today, Zimbio, Fox Sports, Driving Line, SI, News Times