Danica Patrick may have some decisions to make in the next few months. The Stewart-Haas Racing driver learned this week that her longtime sponsor GoDaddy would not be returning next season. The web hosting company made the announcement Wednesday morning, saying it is looking to diversify its marketing investment across more channels and regions and is trying to expand global awareness of its brand. Friday Patrick was at Talladega Superspeedway site of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup series race. She talked about losing her primary sponsor next season.
“It’s a little bit bittersweet,” Patrick said Friday. “I look at pictures of me in the suit and the pictures of the car and I think about I can’t believe it won’t be the green GoDaddy car anymore. In fact, that’s actually what I said to them on the phone. I spoke to Phil (Bienert, Chief Marketing Officer) and Blake (Irving, Chief Executive Officer) who are in charge of making those big phone calls and making those big decisions. And I said, ‘Are you guys okay that you’re not going to see a green car out there anymore?’ That’s actually what I said to them.”
Patrick signed with GoDaddy for the 2007 IndyCar season where, in 2008, she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. GoDaddy has been the primary sponsor for Patrick since she joined NASCAR in 2012 and when she moved to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2013, GoDaddy was her primary sponsor for her full time efforts. In Wednesday’s announcement, GoDaddy indicated that it wants to maintain a relationship with Patrick.
“My relationship with GoDaddy will still continue,” Patrick said. “It’s just going to look a little bit different from an overall standpoint. I think we’re going to continue on, obviously, with the things that I have been doing for them as of late; more smaller events and more specific events for them as opposed as just trying to get their name out there as they’ve said they have 81 percent brand awareness in America, so the program worked. It worked so well, that they’ve evolved. But I’m glad to still be with them, and I’m glad that they gave us time to find someone else for that position.”
Who the next primary sponsor will be ins uncertain. However, few would argue that Patrick is one of the most marketable athletes in America. Patrick however, said that she has yet to talk to her team’s co-owner. Tony Stewart is a three-time champion and is half owner of the Stewart-Haas Racing team Patrick races for.
“I haven’t talked to Tony about it yet, “ Patrick said. “I will talk to him and say pretty much what I’ve said to anyone I’ve seen that it happened and I’m sorry this is our new scenario; but on the other hand, GoDaddy has been really great. I say that and it sounds like such a letdown that they’ve been phenomenal. They have been an enormous supporter through every transition. They supported me when I just wanted to run Nationwide to get experience. So, they’ve been great. But it is a new scenario and we’re going to have to figure it out and it’s a challenge, no doubt. Finding primary sponsors is a challenge. But I feel confident that in all the people to find sponsors, I believe in my agent and my team. And we’ll figure it out.”
“Well, to imagine that this scenario was not possible is a lie, of course,” Patrick said. “We knew that it was possible that GoDaddy would go away. I think we’re all ready and prepared to move on and to figure out other things. I don’t know exactly. I’m fortunate that I have such great people working around me that they don’t have to let me in on every day-to-day conversation that they have and what’s happening. It’s really only the big things and the things they might need me for. So, I don’t know exactly what conversations have gone on before this happened or right now. But I know that we’re working toward finding sponsors and that includes on my side, so my agent will try as well. It’s a collaborative effort and I know they talk frequently and it’s all to get the No. 10 car back out on the track.”
As for the No. 10 on the track, her performance has improved. In 91 starts in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Patrick has six top ten finishes and one pole position. This season she set a record for most top-10 finishes by a woman in NASCAR’s top series, with the six top 10s including a seventh place finish at Martinsville Speedway and a ninth place finish at Bristol Motor Speedway last month. The season is the last of her contract with Stewart-Haas. Although she said Friday she wants to stay where she is at, moving to another team isn’t out of the question.
“I really am happy at Stewart-Haas and they’re working hard already to find someone for the new primary position.,” Patrick said.” My team is working to find someone for the new primary position. So, I think at this point in time, we’re moving forward with all those intentions. But I guess it is on some level open season in a lot of areas. So, I don’t think you can ever say never, of course; but I am happy where I’m at right now.”