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25th of September 2017

Automotive



Kevin Harvick hopes NASCAR teammate Danica Patrick can find a new team

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And while Harvick has won a championship and 13 races at SHR, Patrick has struggled. Still, Harvick said that Patrick has played an important role in bringing new fans to NASCAR.

“Danica has been a huge part of this sport and turned a lot of people on to racing that might not have otherwise been turned on to racing," Harvick said, one day after Patrick announced that she would be leaving SHR at the end of the season. "The impact and the footprint that she has brought to our sport is big. On the other side of that, you have the performance side of things that at some point measures into everybody’s sponsorship."

Tony Stewart Danica Patrick is one of the most fearless people Ive ever met

Patrick's announcement coincided with the announcement that major sponsor Smithfield Foods -- and likely driver Aric Almirola -- was leaving Richard Petty Motorsports for Stewart-Haas.

"I read the statement from Smithfield yesterday and obviously it sounds like that’s the reason why they’re leaving Richard Petty Motorsports is because they feel like the program is working for them off the racetrack and they want to run better on the track," Harvick said. "So I hope that Danica gets a sponsor because she’s an important part of our sport."

Team co-owner Tony Stewart said via his Facebook page on Wednesday that he continues to support Patrick, despite her lack of success (zero wins in 180 career NASCAR starts).

"I read Tony’s comments from his Facebook page this morning and that transition from IndyCar to NASCAR, we’ve seen so many times people struggle and she’s had a lot of very good moments," Harvick said. "Sometimes, you look at Joey Logano. He went from Joe Gibbs Racing to Penske and became an immediate championship contender just by getting in a different situation. So that’s what you hope for in this particular situation is that Danica can find a team and a sponsor that fits her situation better than the situation that has fit in the past.

"It’s not like anybody doesn’t get along, but the circumstances haven’t been 100 percent right to get the most out of the performance needed to keep those partners around and do the things that it takes to be competitive.”

NASCAR breaking: Danica Patrick out at Stewart-Haas Racing after 2017

Harvick added that the sport will be just fine, even if Patrick fails to land a ride for 2018.

“I think obviously you want to see the best-case scenario surround the sport, but I can tell you being in the position that I was in in 2001 with Dale Earnhardt that if something was going to be catastrophic for the sport at that particular point, it could have been catastrophic in a lot of different ways," Harvick said. "It already was catastrophic, and it went through a big transition of what do the Earnhardt fans do? What do they think about the sport? And I don’t think this scenario is as big as that scenario, obviously.

"Sports, in general, has a funny way of absorbing everything and moving on. And whether it’s Dale Jr. or Danica or myself, no matter what the case is, things move and they shuffle and people come and they go and you hope that as you look in the pipeline, there are young and exciting drivers that are going to develop their own personalities and their own fan base and their own excitement and their own situations, and it’ll build itself back up. So I think Danica is an important piece. Obviously, we know where Dale is headed, and he’s gonna continue to be a part of this sport, but I think it would be a plus if she was still racing cars on the weekends.”

Mike Pryson

Mike Pryson - Mike Pryson covered auto racing for the Jackson (Mich.) Citizen Patriot and M-Live Media Group from 1991 until joining Autoweek as online motorsports editor In 2012. Promoted to motorsports editor in 2015. See more by this author»

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