Gene Haas goes to bat for Danica Patrick, says fans want to see her

Danica Patrick’s future with Stewart-Haas racing is up in the air because she doesn’t have a sponsor for 2018. But Gene Haas, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas racing, has gone to bat for his driver in a big way.

In remarks reported by ESPN, Haas lauded his driver of the No. 10 Ford Fusion in a clear bid to try to help her with  her sponsorship woes.

“She commands an awful lot of viewers that want to know what she’s doing,” Haas said Sunday at Michigan International Speedway. “She’s like a Tiger Woods. Whether she does good or she does bad, people are always interested in what she’s doing. … I still think she has a lot of value. If a sponsor wants to sell product, she’s great at that.”

Patrick was supposed to race under the sponsorship of Nature’s Bakery when the company signed a three-year deal in 2016. But Nature’s terminated the sponsorship this year, forcing Patrick and SHR to scramble for another sponsor.

Patrick does have a new sponsor — sort of — but it’s really not good news.

When Patrick races at Richmond on September 9, her sponsor will be — Warrior, by Danica Patrick.

That’s right. Her own clothing line is sponsoring her car.

With sponsorship a main topic of conversation, it speaks volumes that Patrick has to rely on her own clothing line for sponsorship. She’s already lost sponsorship with Go Daddy, and has recently noted that reports of her negotiating a buyout with SHR are incorrect — but still troubling.

“There’s no buyout needed,” she told USAToday. “I don’t have a sponsor. It’s contingent on the sponsor.”

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SHR is struggling with sponsorship, which it will need to keep its team going. The Sports Daily reported:

Patrick’s nearly decade-long relationship with GoDaddy that spanned back to her time in IndyCar ended after ’15, and SHR has run into challenges securing primary sponsorship. Nature’s Bakery earlier this year backed away from its three-year, $45M deal after one season.

That sponsorship trouble, in part, has led to her teammate Kurt Busch already being dropped. Monster, the energy drink company, has been the primary sponsor of Busch’s car the last two seasons and, according to NBC Sports, is weighing its future with NASCAR.

Patrick has been on a bit of a hot streak lately — she’s just finished a trinity of top-20 finishes, which is only the third time that’s happened in Patrick’s career, and she’s achieved a career record with four consecutive top-15 finishes.

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