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Danica Patrick loses NASCAR job

Danica Patrick, the only female driver at NASCAR's top level, is likely at the end of her driving career after a sponsorship shake-up left her without a ride at Stewart-Haas Racing.

>> Read more trending news 

Patrick posted a statement on her Facebook page Tuesday saying her time with Stewart-Haas "had come to an end" due to a new sponsorship arrangement for the team next season. The statement came shortly after Smithfield Foods said it will leave Richard Petty Motorsports to become a primary sponsor at Stewart-Haas next year.

The news is a blow to RPM, which is also losing driver Aric Almirola. But it also forced changes at Stewart-Haas, which has struggled with sponsorship for three of its four cars, including the No. 10 Ford driven by Patrick.

"It has been my honor to drive for Tony Stewart, Gene Haas and everyone at Stewart-Haas Racing for the past six seasons," Patrick wrote. "Sponsorship plays a vital role in our sport, and I have been very fortunate over the course of my career, but this year threw us for a curve."

Patrick, whose participation in NASCAR has always been polarizing given the attention she receives despite her lack of success, closed the post by writing: "I have the utmost faith in myself and those around me, and feel confident about my future."

Patrick has launched a clothing line, has a book coming out next year and has made a huge transition into promoting a healthy and fit lifestyle. It has her positioned for a second career at the age of 35 if she chooses. She's also in a long-term relationship with fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who will make his debut in the playoffs this weekend.

Sponsorship dollars have been hard to come by for a number of drivers and teams. Smithfield's decision leaves Petty's team in need of a sponsor, and Almirola is looking for a ride.

But the bigger changes are clearly underway at SHR, which didn't reveal where Smithfield will be in the organization in 2018.

"Details of the agreement, including the driver who will be added to SHR's Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series lineup in 2018, will be provided at a later date," SHR said in a statement.

That means Smithfield could end up on the car Patrick has driven. Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch both need sponsorship on their cars, too. Busch, the Daytona 500 winner, does not have a deal with SHR for next season.

Both Harvick and Busch will represent SHR in the 10-race playoffs that begin Sunday at Chicagoland Speedway.

Now that Patrick has confirmed she's out at SHR, the team could choose to downsize to three cars, or pursue Almirola, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne or any other available driver. The team could be in the market to replace just Patrick, or both Patrick and Busch.

Patrick has driven for Stewart-Haas Racing her entire Cup career. She has seven top-10 finishes in 180 career starts and is currently 28th in the standings, the lowest in her Cup career.

Still, she won the pole for the 2013 Daytona 500, won an IndyCar race in 2008, is the highest finishing female driver in Indianapolis 500 history with a third-place run in 2009 and is the only woman to lead laps in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500. Patrick is the only woman to win a Cup pole and those top-10 finishes are the most of any female Cup driver.

"She will go down as the best female NASCAR driver of all time. Will likely take decades to see anyone even challenge her legacy," Brad Keselowski posted on Twitter. He later added in a second post: "Have come to accept that mankind never knows or appreciates what it has until its gone. NASCAR fans will miss her badly in time."

Patrick's contract with SHR ran through 2018, but the team has been searching for sponsorship since Nature's Bakery abruptly ended its three-year deal after one season.

RPM is now in a similar bind because it lost Smithfield, which has been associated with Petty the last six years. RPM this year downsized to one Cup car because of sponsorship reasons, and talks on a contract extension with Almirola stalled when Smithfield began looking at other options.

Petty ripped the company and suggested he was blindsided.

"Over the past few months, Smithfield had continually told me they wanted to be with us, and I recently shook hands on a deal to extend our relationship," Petty said. "I come from a time when we did major deals with sponsors like STP on a handshake. I'm sad to see this is where we are now. This decision is very unexpected, and we are extremely disappointed in this late and abrupt change of direction."

Smithfield CEO Kenneth M. Sullivan called Petty's claim of a handshake deal "unequivocally and patently false," and accused the team of not delivering on "tens of millions of dollars of unwavering financial support."

"Smithfield's numerous discussions with RPM over the past several months focused exclusively around one issue: RPM's inability to deliver on the track and the organization's repeated failure to present a plan to address its lack of competitiveness," Sullivan said in a statement. "It is very unfortunate and disheartening that RPM has chosen to disseminate false statements regarding our communications to NASCAR fans who we have supported wholeheartedly with more than a $100 million investment in the sport over the last several years."

Almirola was 20th in the standings when he broke his back in May. It caused him to miss seven races, and the team is currently 25th in the standings. He did make NASCAR's playoffs, in 2014, after he won at Daytona in July.

Petty, the Hall of Fame driver and seven-time NASCAR champion, is no longer the primary owner of his race team. Andrew Murstein of Medallion Financial Corp. is the majority owner of the team.

Petty said he and Murstein were committed to "moving forward" with the No. 43 team.

"Losing a sponsor of this magnitude in September is a significant set-back to Richard Petty Motorsports," Petty said. "We've been around since 1949, and we'll be around a lot longer."

WATCH: Michael Phelps races great white shark ... sort of

Michael Phelps may be fast, but apparently not as fast as a great white shark.

>> Read more trending news

In Discovery's highly anticipated Shark Week special "Phelps vs Shark: Great Gold vs Great White," the 28-time Olympic medalist wore a special wetsuit and monofin to take on a great white – well, sort of – in a 100-meter race.

>> Watch the clip here

Unfortunately for fans, Phelps, with a time of 38.1 seconds, lost by 2 seconds. But that wasn't the biggest disappointment: Instead of facing a real shark, Phelps was shown alongside a computer simulation of a great white. The shark's "time" in the race was based on speed data collected by scientists.

Fans were not amused.

Denver sportswriter fired after tweet about Indy 500 winner

A Denver sportswriter has been fired from his job for an insensitive tweet about the winner of the Indianapolis 500 being from Japan.

>> Read more trending news 

Terry Frei of the Denver Post tweeted that he was “very uncomfortable with a Japanese driver winning the Indianapolis 500 during Memorial Day weekend,” the New York Post reported.

Frei’s tweet came shortly after former Formula One driver Takuma Sato captured Sunday’s race at the Brickyard, becoming the first Japanese winner in the race’s history. 

 The tweet caused an immediate backlash on social media, with some Twitter users criticizing his post as insensitive.

Frei later deleted his tweet and apologized.

“I fouled up. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said what I said when I said it. I should have known better and I regret it,” he tweeted.

The apology may have came too late, however. The Denver Post issued a statement on Frei Monday saying that he had been fired:

We apologize for the disrespectful and unacceptable tweet that was sent by one of our reporters. Terry Frei is no longer an employee of The Denver Post. It’s our policy not to comment further on personnel issues. The tweet doesn’t represent what we believe nor what we stand for. We hope you will accept our profound apologies.

WATCH: NASCAR wreck at Talladega Superspeedway triggers massive 16-car crash

Things got interesting really quick Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama when A.J. Allmendinger bumped Chase Elliot during Lap 169 of the Geico 500 and set off a chain reaction involving at least 16 cars.

>> Click here to watch

It was a “Big One,” and it’s even more jarring in slow motion.

This is how Allmendinger’s car ended up:

As you can see, the soon-to-be-retired Dale Earnhardt Jr. barely missed getting involved:

>> Read more trending news

And how do you feel about that, sir?

As USA Today noted, Elliott initially accepted blame for the multi-car wreck but was told Allmendinger was at fault, and Allmendinger later passed that blame to Kevin Harvick.

No drivers were injured.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. pays tribute to dad on what would have been his 66th birthday

Dale Earnhardt Jr. took a moment Saturday morning to pay tribute to his father on what would have been Dale Earnhardt’s 66th birthday.

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Happy Birthday dude,” Dale Earnhardt Jr. wrote on his Instagram page alongside a photo of himself as a child with his dad.

It had already been quite a week for the younger Earnhardt. He announced Tuesday that he would be retiring at the end of the 2017 NASCAR season and he celebrated the creation of The Dale and Amy Earnhardt Activity Room at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, alongside his wife, Amy.

Besides Dale Earnhardt’s fans, fellow drivers and other members of the Earnhardt family also paid tribute to the NASCAR legend.

“Thinking about my pawpaw today on his 66th birthday,” Jeffrey Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt’s grandson, wrote on his Instagram page. “Some (heroes) wore capes, he wore a fire suit. Big inspiration in my life.”

Mom of 3 collapses, dies after crossing half-marathon finish line

A married Pennsylvania mother of three who had just crossed the finish line of a half marathon she ran in Sunday suddenly collapsed and died due to a ruptured vein that led to abdominal bleeding, the coroner confirmed.

>> Watch the news report here

Lindsay Doherty, 36, tragically died after running in the Scranton Half Marathon.

According to the Morning Call, two emergency room physicians were at the race and attempted to revive Doherty. The woman was then taken by ambulance to the Geisinger Community Medical Center.

>> Marathons linked to short-term kidney injury in new study

The Lackawanna County Coroner said that Doherty “had every shot in the world.”

“She had every shot in the world. The resuscitation was heroic. It just didn’t work, unfortunately,” Timothy Rowland said.

Rowland described the hemorrhage as a rare condition.

Doherty died in the emergency room.

Friends, family and neighbors are mourning Doherty’s loss.

>> Read more trending news

“Disbelief, at first, 36 years old, you just don’t think it can happen. As people started talking about it a little bit more, it started to hit home a little bit more. It’s sad, just sad that it’s in the community,” a local, Mark Seitzinger of the Green Ridge Neighborhood Association, told WNEP.

Doherty is survived by her husband James and their three young children.

Marathons linked to short-term kidney injury in new study

With the days ticking down to the 121st Boston Marathon, a new study from Yale University might give some runners pause about lacing up.

The study found that in a sample of healthy long-distance runners, more than 80 percent showed signs of acute kidney injury right after a marathon.

“We know that bouts of acute kidney injury in the hospital, such bouts of injury are not good. But the case may be completely different for healthy people,” lead author Dr. Chirag Parikh told Fox25Boston.com.

>> Watch the news report here 

The signs of kidney injury only last a few days, but the concern is that it might lead to long-term problems for long-distance runners.

“If somebody's running several marathons, over time, maybe it can lead to cumulative damage,” Parikh said.

Even the most experienced marathon runners know a race of 26.2 miles is no picnic.

“I've never finished one and said, oh, I feel great,” said one runner on a training run Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news

But the study raises special concerns for runners who may have pre-existing kidney issues they might not know about – especially if they're tackling a difficult course like Boston.

“We're kind of running downhill, flat and then you're up and down in the hills. So that puts a strain on the body,” Shane O’Hara from Marathon Sports said.

The study reinforces a simple rule many runners know all too well.

“Some of them run marathons without drinking fluids properly and they need to stay hydrated,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Christopher Battoo said.

Runners are taking the information in stride, but it won’t stop them from competing.

“Even knowing this study, I'm still going to run. It's something I love to do,” 2017 Boston Marathon entrant Meagan Kelly said.

Watch: Severe winds blow cyclists off bikes during race in South Africa

High winds at a bike race in Cape Town, South Africa, were so severe that some riders were knocked off their bikes and others had to hang onto their bikes to prevent the gale force winds from blowing them away.

>> Read more trending news 

The wind gusts topped 60 mph at times Sunday at the Cape Town Cycle Tour, forcing organizers to cancel the international road race.

“It is with regret … the organizers of the Cape Town Cycle Tour were forced to make the difficult decision to stop the 40th edition” of the race, according to a statement on the tour’s website.

Video of the event shows the chaos at the start of the race.

The race is the biggest timed bicycle race in the world, with some 35,000 bikers registered to ride.

And if you're wondering how bad the wind is...take a look! @CTCycleTour #CycleTour2017 cancelled pic.twitter.com/QKQVbKWwEV— Heart FM (@Heart1049FM) March 12, 2017

Dale Earnhardt Jr. announces break from racing, Jeff Gordon steps in

It’s official. After much talk and concern over concussion symptoms displayed by NASCAR superstar Dale Earnhardt Jr., it's been announced that his break from driving may end up being out for longer than anyone first thought.

>> Read more trending stories

The symptoms kept Earnhardt from racing in New Hampshire on July 17.

Jeff Gordon will come out of retirement and return to Sprint Cup racing to act as Earnhardt's replacement for the next two races at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Pocono Speedway.

NASCAR fans will recall that Gordon has had much success at Indy, winning five times at the storied track -- including at the inaugural Brickyard 400 in 1994.

In terms of Earnhardt's health, reports have indicated that he has been battling balance problems and nausea -- possibly from a pair of back-to-back crashes in Michigan and Daytona.

"(My doctors) can give me a lot of exercises that retrain my brain to handle what I need to handle -- it's just going to take a lot of patience," Earnhardt said in a podcast, according to ABC News. "I take my health and quality of life as a top priority. … I am going to take this slow and strictly take the advice of my doctors."

Rascal Flatts responds to brutal attack on NASCAR veteran Mike Wallace, daughter

Three people have been arrested in connection with an assault on former NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Mike Wallace and his daughter after a Rascal Flatts concert Friday night in Charlotte, North Carolina, according to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.

Wallace posted a note on Facebook about the assault, which he said sent him and his adult daughter Lindsey Wallace Van Wingerden to the hospital, ESPN reported.

Rascal Flatts responded to the incident on Twitter.

He sat down with WSOC-TV on Sunday evening to share his horrifying story.

>> Read more trending stories

Wallace told WSOC that he was in the parking lot and said the question that prompted the attack was, “How did you like the show?”

According to Wallace, a group of people started screaming at him and then beat him up after he asked that question.

Wallace was at the show with his family and his daughter tried to help him, but she said the group then turned on her.

The 57-year-old said he suffered a concussion. His daughter was also rushed to the hospital after she tried to protect her father.

She said she can't comprehend the motives behind the fight.

“It scares us to think we can't even go to a concert together without someone going to attack you or what's going to happen next,” Wallace Van Wingerden said.

Wallace received 12 stitches and lost three teeth in the fight, but told WSOC his greater concern was for his daughter.

“I woke up. I see my daughter laying on the ground, which is devastating for a father,” he said. “I mean, that's the worst thing in the world.”

“We were told on site that CMPD at the PNC Theater, that they've dealt with this group on two or three separate occasions so far this concert season,” Wallace said. “The people this happened with are actual contractors with PNC. They're maintenance crews. Their company provides maintenance and yard landscaping services from what we're told.”

Three men were arrested in the assault, which happened at the PNC Music Pavilion: Paul Lucas, 29, Nathan Lucas, 22, of Indian Trail and Randolph Mangum, 24, of Monroe.

Nathan Lucas and Mangum were charged with misdemeanor simple assault, while Paul Lucas was charged with misdemeanor assault on a female, according to police records. All were released after posting bond and will appear in court July 22.

“The physical side is going to heal,” Wallace Van Wingerden told WSOC. “The bruises are going to heal. There's doctors gonna fix things, but now it’s the emotional parts. You see these flashbacks knowing there are people out there.”

“It's a weekend we did not plan on having,” she said. “I could think of a lot better things to be doing on Father's Day, that's for sure.”

The eldest brother of the Wallace racing family, which includes Rusty Wallace and Kenny Wallace, Mike Wallace had 197 starts in his Sprint Cup career, his last coming in the 2015 Daytona 500.

He has competed in 17 Cup races in the past 10 years. His last full NASCAR season was in 2013 when he competed in the Xfinity Series, where he has four career wins in 494 starts.

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