Danica Patrick did something Wednesday she said she had never done before, and appeared awfully upset with herself.
But deep down, the news that Patrick let slip in front of about two dozen reporters at Daytona International Speedway must have been gratifying as well.
Patrick revealed that she has a ride with Ed Carpenter Racing for the 2018 Indianapolis 500, filling in the missing piece that completes the “Danica Double,” a two-race farewell tour to her racing career.
Patrick will run just two races this year – Sunday’s NASCAR Daytona 500 for Premium Motorsports and the May 27 IndyCar Indy 500 for ECR. And then she’ll retire from racing. Just like she told everyone in November before the NASCAR season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
Wednesday’s slip of the tongue likely spoiled flashier announcement plans.
“I didn’t have time to meet up with Ed and the people that ... Oh, (shoot), did I just say that out loud?” Patrick said. “I’ve never done that in my career.”
The Associated Press reports Patrick dropped the mic and even cursed under her breath in front of reporters.
She left the podium after just a few more questions, saying, “I better shut up and leave. I’m going to be in trouble.”
Patrick’s longtime sponsor, GoDaddy, has signed on for the two races, America’s best-known motorsports events.
Sunday, Patrick will be the only woman driving at Daytona. That might not be the case at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Part-time IndyCar driver Pippa Mann ran her sixth Indy 500 last season, finishing 17th, her best finish.
Patrick ran seven seasons in IndyCar before leaving after the 2001 season to move to NASCAR. Patrick became the first woman to ever win a race in a major closed-course series in the 2008 Japan 300.
In her first Indy 500 in 2005, Patrick became the first woman to ever take the lead, and was leading with just seven laps left. Her best finish there came in 2009, when she finished third, the highest finish ever for a woman. In seven Indy 500 races, Patrick only finished lower than 10th once, in 2008, due to a pit crash.
ECR is partly owned by Tony George, the founder of IndyCar and chairman of the family group that owns Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Carpenter, George’s son, will drive one of ECR’s three entries, along with Patrick and Spencer Pigot.
Carpenter won Indy 500 poles in 2013 and 2014, and has finished as high as fifth.
Patrick excited to have Rodgers at Daytona
Patrick’s new boyfriend, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, will attend Sunday’s race at Daytona, the Associated Press reported earlier this week.
“He’s going to be here to support me and he’s excited,” Patrick told AP. “I’m excited to show him what I do.”
Patrick confirmed last month that she was dating Rodgers, who broke up with actress Olivia Munn last year. Patrick and fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ended a five-year relationship last last year.
Rodgers and Patrick were photographed together at last week’s AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am golf tournament.
Follow Mike Reader on Twitter.