The famous female racing driver confessed that she could be forced to retire from NASCAR if this major health concern worsens or if doctors advise her to do so.
Known for being one of the few female NASCAR drivers and inking pretty massive sponsorship deals, Danica Patrick has been one of the most talked-about racers in the industry – especially recently. In January 2017, it was revealed that her biggest sponsor had cancelled its contract with her racing team and legal action ensued.
Now, the 34-year-old NASCAR driver is opening up about an issue that affects many more people than just herself and she explains how that might force her to retire.
Fellow NASCAR star and friend of Patrick’s, Dale Earnhardt Jr., has also experienced major health issues and his retirement has been questioned by many – even legendary driver Richard Petty suggested that Dale Jr. should not have returned to the track. In 2016, Dale Jr. endured two hard-hits on the track and suffered from a severe concussion that yanked him from the driver’s seat for the remainder of the season.
Along those same lines, Danica Patrick is opening up about her experience with severe concussions and noting that retirement is just one bad crash away. Speaking on Wednesday (February 22nd) during the Daytona 500 Media Day, Patrick explained that by her account she’d suffered from at least a dozen concussions in her career.
“I’ve had concussions. Every time you crash, you have a concussion on a varying degree,” Patrick said. “When [Earnhardt] said something about having 12 concussions, I’m like, ‘I’m sure I’ve had 12 concussions.’ … It makes you think.”
While she hasn’t ever suffered one as bad as Dale Jr. did, she says that his choice to take a break was good for every single driver out there.
“It makes you pay attention to yourself, and there’s nothing better than having somebody like Dale Jr. going as far as getting out of the car as long as he did, saying, ‘Hey, I have a problem,’ because it makes it more available to everyone else.”
With the availability of specialized medical attention and the knowledge of the impact concussions and crashes on the track have on a driver’s body, Patrick says that she will not take any chances and if a doctor diagnosed her as being at risk with another crash, she wouldn’t hesitate to retire.
“I think that we’d like to sweep it all under the rug as drivers like we feel fine and nothing is wrong,” she said. “But it’s our life. If there was someone that told me or, I would hope any other driver, if you have another wreck, you could have a serious problem, then they would [choose to] be out.”
What do you think of her statements? Do you agree?
Watch one of her interviews from the Daytona 500 Media Day below.