The former Indycar winner entered NASCAR with high hopes of becoming its next big thing but ended up coming well short of the mark. In fact, after 251 starts in NASCAR’s top two series’, Patrick remained winless and only captured 15 top-ten finishes.
While Patrick’s career started out promising enough in The Xfinity Series, especially with three top-ten finishes in her first season, she was moved to The Monster Energy Cup Series and her career only went downhill from there.
Unfortunately for Patrick, she left a very mixed impression on the sport when she retired and her fellow drivers have not shied away from that subject. The latest to sound off on the career of Patrick was Denny Hamlin, who was asked to compare her to promising NASCAR upstart, Hailee Deegan in an interview with Forbes.
“I think our sport is much better off with a successful female driver in NASCAR.” Hamlin said in an interview with Forbes,” Danica Patrick, even if she was not super successful results-wise, did a lot for our sport and its visibility. That was an element that fans really did appreciate, and it brought some awareness and different eyes to our sport. “
” I think someone like Hailie Deegan could have that kind of resonation with fans, and fill a void that Danica left. Hamlin continued, ” (Deegan) is kind of cutting her teeth in the lower series right now. She just turned 18 and is having some success. Every level becomes a new challenge that is exponentially harder for any driver than the one before. Some of it has to do with the equipment and better cars at the top. “
While Hamlin did seem appreciative of Patrick’s ability to bring new fans to the sport and strengthen the female fanbase, he also wasted no time in his statement claiming that the sport is much better off with a promising young star like Deegan.
Whether that actually turns out to be the case or not remains to be seen and will depend on what Deegan is able to do when she reaches the upper levels of the sport, but she has shown a lot of talent so far and could probably no doubt do it again if put in the right equipment.
In the end, Danica Patrick might have helped the sport grow its fanbase over the course of her career, but her lack of success on the track definitely overshadowed that. Beyond that, it has to make one wonder if a woman will ever be able to have success in NASCAR’s top tier series.
Here’s hoping. Hailie Deegan is able to buck this trend, work her way up into The Cup Series, get a top ride and have the performances that Patrick was never able to.