Danica Patrick's last day as a NASCAR driver got off to a good start with a kiss from her boyfriend, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. But it ended in disappointment after a crash knocked her out of the Daytona 500.
The 35-year-old Patrick was accompanied by members of her family before the race kicked off, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Rodgers also joined her on pit road to give her a good luck kiss. The 34-year-old Rodgers wore a black T-shirt and sunglasses to the race.
The race did not go as well as Patrick hoped. She was involved in a crash with Chase Elliott, Kevin Harvick, Kasey Kahne, Brad Keselowski and other drivers during the 102nd lap of the 200 it takes to complete the Daytona 500.
"My family and friends have all been here, so many people have reached out, [and] it's been a nice week, so I'm not going to dwell on the result here," Patrick told ESPN after the crash. "That's always a chance when you come to a superspeedway that's the result."
She said she was proud of staying competitive in a race that was already hampered by crashes Sunday afternoon. Jimmie Johnson was also among the racers knocked out early on the 17th anniversary of Dale Earnhardt Sr.'s death at the same racetrack.
Patrick ended her career with 191 NASCAR Cup Series starts. She finished eighth at the 2013 Daytona 500 and is still the only woman to win a pole in a NASCAR Cup race. Her finish in 2013 remains the highest finish for a female driver at Daytona.
"It just wasn't meant to be, I guess, today," Patrick told Fox Sports.
Patrick still has one more race to go to finish her career as a professional driver. She will be racing in the Indy 500 on Memorial Day weekend. She made her debut at the Indianapolis 500 in 2005 and she won the 2008 Indy Japan in the IndyCar series.
After paparazzi photos of the two were published, Patrick and Rodgers finally confirmed their relationship in a January interview with the Associated Press. The two met at the 2012 ESPY Awards, where she told him she was a Chicago Bears fan.
"I told him a long time ago I'd always root for him as a player," Patrick said in January. "Now I am probably going to cheer for the whole team... Take out the word 'probably.' Now I'm going to cheer for the whole team."
Patrick is moving on from her five-year relationship with fellow driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., while Rodgers dated actress Olivia Munn for almost three years. Patrick was previously married to physical therapist Paul Edward Hospenthal from 2005 to 2012.
Patrick announced her plans to retire from racing in November 2017.