Danica Patrick didn’t have to wait long to find another primary sponsor for her Stewart-Haas Racing team.
Four months after learning that GoDaddy would leave NASCAR after this season, Patrick and her No. 10 Chevy team have landed a new backer: Nevada-based snacks-and-food company Nature’s Bakery.
“This is the first year I’ve had to wonder or worry what I’m going to do in the next year,” Patrick said Tuesday. “I’ve been extremely fortunate in my career to not have to think about that. One deal rolled into the next.”
Patrick was speaking at a news conference during which SHR co-owner Tony Stewart also announced even more stability for Patrick in the form of a new multiyear contract.
The sponsorship agreement will cover 28 races a season, beginning in 2016. The remaining eight races likely will be covered by other companies that currently sponsor Patrick’s team on a smaller scale.
We all know what the value of what Danica’s brand is.
Patrick is in her third year with SHR, a team that provided her a first chance at Sprint Cup racing. Although she has had limited success on the track – she is winless in four Cup seasons after coming from IndyCar in 2012 – retaining Patrick was a priority for Stewart.
She is 21st in the points standings this year, not on pace to make the Chase, but in a higher spot than she has finished in previous seasons. She had a season-high seventh-place finish in the spring at Martinsville (Va.) and a ninth-place finish at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, the site of this weekend’s race.
“We all know what the value of Danica’s brand is,” Stewart said. “Watching her from her IndyCar days, I realized how big a talent she is – more than a marketing tool. We’re proud of her progress (and) of what she does behind the race car. She’s a great asset to this organization.”
The new primary sponsorship will cover 28 races per season.
Patrick said she has been happy at SHR, which also employs drivers Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick, as well as Stewart, and wasn’t looking to leave, despite the temporary sponsorship uncertainty.
“Did I talk to other teams? No,” she said. “I really feel fortunate that I didn’t have to. I knew this is where I wanted to be. I didn’t get to that point.”
21st Patrick’s place in NASCAR Cup points standings
With expenses constantly rising in NASCAR – it reportedly costs about $20 million annually to run a single team – sponsorship continues to be a key ingredient in the sport.
“It’s exciting because we can sleep at night,” Stewart said of the Patrick’s new deal. “We all know how competitive it is. It is just as competitive – sponsorship – as is on-track performance. It lets us focus on the stuff that we love to do each week now, and that’s to try to make our race cars go faster.”