It’s been a rocky couple of weeks for Stewart-Haas Racing’s Number 10 driver. Drama began earlier this month when Stewart-Haas filed a lawsuit against Patrick’s old sponsor, Nature’s Bakery, after the company tried to terminate their contract early. Without a primary sponsor, Patrick and the No. 10 team’s future was thrown into serious question. As Daytona got closer and closer, things were looking grim and critics were speculating about whether or not she’d even start at Daytona. However, a major weight was lifted for Danica and the team as Aspen Dental was announced as the new primary sponsor. Aspen Dental has been partnered with Patrick and SHR for a few years, but only yesterday did they step up and assume the primary sponsorship role for the No. 10 car.
While this is undoubtedly good news for the team, the contract with Aspen Dental is not full season. In an official release, Stewart-Haas said only that the company would serve as Patrick’s primary sponsor for a “double-digit slate of races,” not giving a specific length. This wording means that Aspen Dental has probably committed to something closer to ten races than to the full 26 in the regular season.
So while Patrick’s ride is safe for now, her long-term future may not be. In her career with the No. 10 team she’s had only six top-ten finishes, with an average finishing position of around 24th. The truth of the matter is that without some increased performance on-track, long-term sponsorship may be hard to come by. However, Patrick’s one standout performance came in her debut as a rookie in 2013, when she took pole at the Advance Auto Parts Clash. As that race approaches, she’ll definitely be trying to re-create that magic. With sponsorship and possibly her future sport on the line, the first races of this year’s season could be make or break for Danica Patrick.