DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Danica Patrick and Aaron Rodgers brought a dose of A-list attraction to a pit road scene that was more fitting for a red carpet. The starry-eyed sweethearts were mobbed by fans and media clicking away for a snapshot of some PDA that would surely spawn headlines. Then the moment came: Rodgers, a full foot taller than his new girlfriend, put his hands on Patrick’s shoulders and leaned in for a good-luck kiss.
Patrick’s final NASCAR race at the Daytona 500 captured her career to perfection. She had photojournalists embedded with her, a hunky celebrity NFL QB boyfriend by her side, social media buzzing — and a crumpled Chevy towed to the garage that put a premature end to her race.
Patrick smooched her boyfriend and then kissed her NASCAR career goodbye when she was caught up in a wreck in Sunday’s race.
Her final win-loss record was a dud: 0 for 191 in the Cup series.
“I hope they remember me as a great driver and that I was a woman and it was really cool to watch and be there for,” Patrick said.
Her NASCAR farewell fittingly came on the sport’s biggest stage — in front of 101,000 fans at Daytona.
Patrick was in good spirits as she approached her car that had been swallowed by mobs of onlookers and security guards barking orders that made it futile to find a spot near the scrum. She posed for pictures with her family and Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, who was all smiles in a tight blue T-shirt and jeans before the race and watched from the pits.
“Who’s that girl with Aaron Rodgers?!” one fan cracked.
Funny, but all eyes at Daytona were on Danica.
She finished 35th on Sunday in the first leg of the ballyhooed “Danica Double” at Daytona International Speedway. She’ll make a return in May to IndyCar and race the Indianapolis 500 before Patrick calls it quits on her racing career.
“When she first started at 10, I knew about two months into it, I told my wife she’s going to change racing. I could see it,” said Patrick’s father, T.J.
Patrick was a driver at peace with her decision and ready to transition into the…
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