Will 2015 be Danica Patrick’s final season at Stewart-Haas?
Team owner Gene Haas expects Danica Patrick to remain with Stewart-Haas Racing beyond 2015, the final year of her current contract — and longtime sponsor GoDaddy’s contract — with the company.
Speaking Tuesday afternoon on the Charlotte Motor Speedway Media Tour, Haas confirmed that there are "negotiations going on" to keep Patrick and GoDaddy on board for 2016 and possibly beyond.
Patrick, who has just four top-10 finishes and no top fives over the course of two full seasons with Stewart-Haas, is set to embark on her third full season with the organization next month at Daytona.
Could it be her last?
"Everything changes in this sport," Haas said. "I think she’s done good. Look at like a Joey Logano. He spent all those years over at Gibbs and it took him six years to get going, so I don’t think she’s that far off the mark. She’s probably right on the mark, really."
Haas said he expects Patrick to still be a Stewart-Haas driver in 2016.
"We’d love to see Danica come back," he said. "She’s a big draw. We want to see Danica succeed as much as anybody does. I think NASCAR wants to see her succeed, so there’s an awful lot of vested interested in having succeed in this man’s sport, and we’ve very fortunate to have someone like Danica here. I think she just brings a lot of attention to not only NASCAR but SHR and the whole racing venue."
Patrick, a former IndyCar driver of seven years, on Tuesday expressed no intentions of leaving NASCAR in the foreseeable future.
"Well, I ain’t getting any younger and I don’t know how many times I can change my career, so as long as I have the confidence of Tony Stewart (co-owner) and Gene (Haas) and the people around me that are working with me, and the support of my sponsors … as long as I have their support and the confidence of the people around me, I’m not going to F1 anytime soon," Patrick said. "That’s for sure."
Asked about her future with GoDaddy in NASCAR, Patrick made no bones about her desire.
"Of course I want GoDaddy to come back," she said. "We’ve been talking about it for quite awhile, and they want to, and so we just have to make sure that we keep giving each other value, and I know they give me value, so for me it’s about giving back to them."
Haas believes pairing Patrick with SHR engineer turned crew chief Daniel Knost for the 2015 season will benefit his driver. The two worked together for the first time in the final three races of 2014, with Patrick scoring a best finish of 18th under Knost’s guidance.
Knost replaces Tony Gibson, an old-school style crew chief who has moved over to teammate Kurt Busch’s No. 41 team after almost two full seasons with Patrick’s No. 10 team.
"I think putting Daniel with her is a good change because he’s very, very technical and he’s the kind of guy that will sit there and explain exactly what the car’s doing, and if we do this, this is the result you’re going to get," Haas said. "It’s really a different way of racing than, say, a Tony Gibson, and a little different perspective gives you different results."
Patrick shares in Haas’ belief about what her new crew chief brings to the table.
"I think Daniel will definitely bring a different point of view," she said. "He’s much more of an engineer … but I think you have to get them to use the resources, too. Smart guys tend to believe in what they’ve learned because they’re very intelligent and that’s how they got there. But we have a lot of resources at Stewart-Haas within as well as outside, so it’s about using the other crew chiefs and what they’ve learned, and using Hendrick and Chevrolet and all of our resources, really, I think is the challenge."