NASCAR Analyst Danica Patrick Reflects on Racing Career: ’27-Year Season of My Life’

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

As a 10-year-old girl, Danica Patrick sat behind the wheel of her first racing vehicle, a go-kart. Over the years, the young go-kart enthusiast became a full-blown race car driver. And in 2008, Danica Patrick made history when she became the first woman to win an IndyCar championship event. Ten years later, Patrick retired from racing, and now works as a NASCAR analyst for FOX Sports.

As the most successful woman in the history of American open-wheel car racing, you might think that Danica Patrick misses the driver’s seat. However, the retired driver says that, as grateful as she is for her time on the track, she’s happy to be right where she is.

“That was a 27-year season of my life, where I sort of strapped on the armor, and I was tough and strong and aggressive and was built for that world,” the racing legend said. “And I also enjoy this phase of my life, where I can take some of that armor off, and I don’t have to be so tough, and I don’t have to be so aggressive, and I don’t have to do so much.”

Retiring from competition is one of the hardest tasks in the world for many, but not for Patrick. On the contrary, she says that she’s never felt bored in her new life. “Maybe [for others] it hurts to watch it, depending on how the ending came for them or what they’re doing otherwise. I’m plenty busy enough, as busy as I want to be. So I don’t feel like I’m sitting around at home so bored, thinking maybe I shouldn’t have retired… I really don’t have that desire [to race].”

NASCAR Analyst Danica Patrick Talks Her New Role in Racing

Though Danica Patrick doesn’t watch a lot of NASCAR in her free time, she does enjoy her broadcasting work alongside Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer. “If I wasn’t excited to do it, I wouldn’t do it,” she said. “I enjoy doing it. It’s really fun.”

Patrick says she wasn’t nervous at all for her first time in the broadcast booth. Mike Joy and Clint Bowyer are so good at their jobs, she didn’t feel pressure to give a constant stream of commentary. “I could literally not talk, and they would be able to fill all the time,” Patrick recalls. “So it gives me a little latitude to be able to interject when I feel something strong enough. On the other hand, they keep it going so well that I’m like, ‘I don’t know. Is my point important? Is it worth saying?’ Because they’re just really good.”