Danica Patrick‘s hopes of taking part in the 2018 Indianapolis 500 have taken a further hit after talks between herself and Chip Ganassi Racing have ended with no deal being struck. Chip Ganassi Racing’s president, Steve Lauletta, confirmed yesterday that talks had taken place, as Chip Ganassi himself stated back in December, but went on to state that the team had decided against the idea of fielding an extra car for Patrick.
It was announced last year that Danica Patrick had lost her full-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series ride with Stewart-Haas Racing after the team elected to replace her with Aric Almirola. After several months trying to negotiate a contract with a new team, Patrick announced in November that she would be taking part in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 in 2018 in one-off appearances. After this, she would retire from racing.
Despite having said that she would be racing in both events, Patrick has yet to actually sign with a team for either event. Recently, a number of IndyCar teams have confirmed that they would not be signing Patrick for the event, with Chip Ganassi Racing the latest to add their names to the list.
CGR team president, Steve Lauletta, echoed the opinions of teams who have already refused Patrick for the 500, stating that adding her would be too much of a distraction from their full-time entries:
“Ultimately I think she will (come up with something). She was fairly successful in some of the races she’s run at that place. She knows her way around.” said Lauletta, “There are teams that run just the Indianapolis 500 because of the size of the event itself, so I think they will be able to put something together, and I wish them luck. I think it would be great for the sport of IndyCar racing to have her come back and run in the Indianapolis 500 from an exposure standpoint.
“We’re going to stay focused on the task at hand, getting the 42 (Kyle Larson) in Cup and the 42 in XFINITY into victory lane as much as we can in hopes of winning a couple of championships. Same thing for our Indy Car program. We’ve got two cars that were tested yesterday in Sebring and we’re going to stay focused on that rather than put another temporary effort together and not doing it up to the standards that we would want to. So I don’t think you’ll see that happening with us in 2018.”
Similarly, there has yet to be an announcement as to whether Patrick has secured a ride for the Daytona 500. With just under forty days remaining until the event, and even less until qualifying and the duel races, time is running out. Earlier this week, Patrick admitted that it was taking longer than she’d expected to make the deals to compete in her last two races:
“It’s taking longer than I would like it to take, I’ll be really honest with you,” Patrick told SiriusXM’s NASCAR radio show on Sunday, “I thought it was going to be a quicker process, but you can’t rush things.”
“I’m a big believer, more and more, of just letting things flow and letting things take shape and that’s why I ended up finishing my career full-time last year. Doing the Daytona 500 and Indy 500 for this year, I didn’t push things, let things flow and it’s turned out perfectly.
“With the teams – or team – that I’m going to race for in NASCAR and IndyCar I’m pushing politely, but you can’t make these things happen.”
The 2018 NASCAR Cup Series Daytona 500 takes place on Sunday 18 February, with Qualifying taking place the week before. Patrick will need a ride secured long before then if she is to get fully acclimatized with her new team. After that, she has just over three months before the Verizon IndyCar Series Indianapolis 500 at the end of May.