Danica Patrick’s future in NASCAR Cup racing is uncertain, as she announced in September she won’t drive for Stewart-Haas Racing after this season.
So, could Sunday be Patrick’s final run at Talladega Superspeedway? Will Patrick, 35, join a new team for the 2018 season? Will she return to IndyCar racing? Will she leave racing altogether?
If this is it for Patrick at Talladega, she can leave with the knowledge she has struck a blow for women in the sport. She’s the first female regular on NASCAR’s highest circuit since Janet Guthrie in 1977.
She’s one of the few women to race at any level at Talladega, and she’s the first to lead laps in a Cup race at the speedway.
A brief look at four of the top women who have competed at Talladega:
After spending four years on the IndyCar circuit, Patrick has 184 starts on the Cup series, including nine at Talladega. Both are career highs for women by far.
Patrick finished 19th in the 2014 fall race and 20th in the 2016 fall race. She started seventh in the spring 2014 race but wound up 22nd.
She has led 16 career Cup laps at Talladega.
Patrick raced mostly on the Nationwide series in 2012 and placed 13th at Talladega that year. (It’s now the Xfinity series.) She wound up 10th in the points standings and was voted by fans as the circuit’s most popular driver.
She raced three times at Talladega in the late 1970s, finishing a career-best 29th in 1978 before a crash ended her day.
She started ninth in 1977 but finished 34th after her engine failed.
Guthrie is the first woman to race in the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. She never intended to be a racecar driver. In an interview with the Indianapolis Star in May, she said her plan had been to be an astronaut. She graduated from Michigan with a degree in physics but didn’t think about auto racing until she was rejected from the astronaut program.
She designed and built her own cars.
From 1986-98, she drove mostly in the Busch series, which is now Xfinity. She did drive in the Cup series five times, including a 33rd place at Talladega on July 30, 1989.
In Busch races, she placed seventh in 1995.
This year at the Southern 500, Chris Buescher paid homage to Moise by using her 1988 paint scheme on his car. She drove No. 37, as Buescher does. The number was in gold, with a mostly white body and a black stripe under the number. A yellow trim wrapped around the bottom of the car.
Robinson drove NASCAR races off and on from 1991-2005. She then retired to follow her passion for interior design. She owns a company called Happy Chair, in which she designs chairs.
None of her eight Cup starts came at Talladega, but she did compete in Busch and ARCA races at the speedway.
In 2001, she was 19th in a Busch race at Talladega, and in 1993, she finished 40th. She placed sixth in a 2000 ARCA race and 30th in 1999.