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Danica Patrick losing GoDaddy sponsorship in 2016

USA TODAY SPORTS logo USA TODAY SPORTS 4/29/2015 USAToday
Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports © Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports Amber Searls, USA TODAY Sports

Sprint Cup driver Danica Patrick will lose her primary sponsor and longtime benefactor next season as GoDaddy will not return to NASCAR, USA TODAY Sports has learned.

Patrick, 33, is in the final year of her contract at Stewart-Haas Racing and now in search of a primary sponsor for next season.

GoDaddy is looking to sign her to a personal services contract but will no longer sponsor her No. 10 Chevrolet race car.

Both Patrick and SHR officials have expressed hope she would return to the four-car organization next year. SHR is co-owned by Tony Stewart and Gene Haas. It also fields cars for three-time Cup champion Stewart, 2014 Cup champion Kevin Harvick and 2004 titlist Kurt Busch.

Patrick called GoDaddy an "incredible partner" and said she hoped to continue the relationship.

GoDaddy, a global online domain registrar serving more than 13 million customers in 37 countries, is shifting its focus more toward small business and international markets. It has been at least an associate sponsor of Patrick since 2007 and became her main backer since the 2010 IndyCar season when she was with Andretti Autosport.

"We love Danica and all she does to empower and inspire people, especially women, which is why we are working to keep her in the GoDaddy family," GoDaddy chief marketing officer Phil Bienert said. "We have the utmost respect for Stewart-Haas Racing, and they've been phenomenal partners. In fact, NASCAR has been a tremendous domestic platform to help us achieve an 81 percent aided brand awareness domestically, but at this stage, we need a range of marketing assets that reach a more globally-diverse set of customers."

Bienert added that Patrick's "record-setting season" made the decision more difficult. She is currently 16th in the standings and established a record this season for most career top-10s by a woman, with six. She has two of those this season.

Patrick has made history in motor sports time and again. In 2005, she set the fastest pole speed for a woman at the Indianapolis 500 and made the field. She led laps and finished fourth in the famed race, at the time the highest finish for a woman. In 2008, she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race. And in 2013, she won the pole for the Daytona 500.

Brett Frood, executive vice president of SHR said in a statement:

"It is our intent to continue raising our performance bar with all four Stewart-Haas Racing teams and delivering results to our constituents now and in the future. With Danica, we see a driver with unparalleled resolve and tenacity. She is an individual who transcends the sport and we look forward to fostering new partnerships for her and the No. 10 team."

GoDaddy CEO Blake Irving and Patrick had espoused a satisfaction with their relationship as she transitioned to NASCAR, with Irving declaring that her on-track performance did not matter. He called her a "superstar" Wednesday.

Still, Patrick's role as the face of the company in television commercials had waned in recent years as its marketing campaign shifted more toward small businesses. The sometimes titillating commercials that earned Patrick and the company both awareness and criticism had been replaced by a more conservative approach and Patrick had become more involved in promoting STEM initiatives and recruitment of female employees for the company.

She would have starred in a 14th ad for the Super Bowl this year, but it was pulled after protests from animal rights activists.

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