Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing after new sponsor

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Smithfield Foods Inc., a global food company and the world's largest pork processor and hog producer, announced earlier today it will join Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) as a primary team sponsor beginning in 2018.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons", Patrick said.

In 180 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series starts, Patrick has zero wins, zero top-fives and seven top-10 finishes. I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake. She has one top-10 - June 4th at Dover International Speedway - and an average finish of 23.5 in 2017. As a result of the disagreements, Danica was without a main sponsor for next year's season, which put her a weak position with the team; which may have ultimately led to the Stewart-Haas searching for a replacement driver with better backing.

"Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve", Patrick said via her statement. "Our wonderful partners, such as Aspen Dental and Code 3, stepped up in a big way on short notice this year and I am incredibly grateful".

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If this is the end of the road for Patrick, she can leave the sport with her head held high.

This story will be updated as more information is available. She posted one top five, seven top-10s and won one pole in that series. The news is a blow to RPM, but it also forced changes at Stewart-Haas, which has struggled with sponsorship for three of its four cars, including the No. 10 driven by Patrick. Aric Almirola drives the No. 43 for RPM at this time, although the SHR statement only said details of the new driver would be announced at a later date.

"Losing a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a significant setback to Richard Petty Motorsports, but (Murstein) and I are committed to moving forward with the No. 43 team. Thanks for the memories", Patrick wrote. Cup Series seats are hard to come by, and there are winners like Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne who figure to be in line before her for any that open up. "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future". She is now 28 in points with 10 races remaining. Her lone IndyCar win came in Japan in 2008. She's already said she wouldn't consider a drop down to the XFINITY Series. She competed part time in the Xfinity Series in 2010 and 2011 while also competing full time in IndyCar before going full time in NASCAR racing with JR Motorsports in the Xfinity Series in 2012.

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