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Danica Patrick Introduction
Say what you will about Danica Patrick’s ability to actually win a race—she looks a helluva lot better than Kyle Petty in a swimsuit.
Danica Patrick Life Story
Born in Wisconsin and raised in Roscoe, Illinois, Danica began racing go-karts at 10. She won several go-kart national championships before moving to England at 16 to advance her racing career (and de-advance her taste buds). Across the pond, Danica placed second in the ultra-competitive Formula Ford Festival—the highest finish ever by either a woman or an American (though, weirdly, the second-highest finish for an American woman…don’t ask).
In 2002, a 20-year-old Patrick signed with Rahal-Letterman Racing (that’s right, as in the guy with the Top 10 lists), and after a few productive years in the minors, she entered the majors: the IRL IndyCar Series. At the 2005 Indianapolis 500, Danica led for 19 laps—the first woman ever to be out in front—and ended up finishing fourth. While that’s third loser to some, it was the highest finish ever by a woman at Indy, and it helped her earn IRL Rookie of the Year honors. (The next two years at Indy weren’t quite as hot: She finished eighth twice.)
Even before Danica won a race in the IRL, that hasn’t stopped her from fielding more media requests than anyone else on the circuit, and regularly being voted the league’s most popular driver. (We think it has something to do with her mustache-lessness.) The 5’2” beauty—who, unfortunately, is married to her former (and maybe current?) physical therapist—has even received offers to switch to NASCAR. We think she should do whatever blows her hair back.
Danica Patrick was always sure a woman could win a race. And now the questions about her will surely stop.
Patrick made it to the place she wanted to be for so long—Victory Lane. She became the first female winner in IndyCar history Sunday, capturing the Indy Japan 300 in her 50th career start.
“I’m glad it finally happened,” the 26-year-old driver said. “But I would be lying if I told you I didn’t think it would be me.”
Her owner was ecstatic, insisting more victories await. Her family could not congratulate her enough. All of which made Patrick a bit teary.
“When it actually happened, maybe it was a little anticlimactic,” she said. “Then the emotions came out and that was a little girly of me.”
Win No. 1 was a long time coming. Patrick finished a career-best seventh in the standings last year when her best finish was second in the race at Detroit’s Belle Isle. Her first IndyCar race was in 2005 at Homestead-Miami.
“I’ve been asked so many times when and if I can win my first race,” she said. “And, finally, no more of those questions.”
Patrick was welcomed by her family near the podium.
“There was a lot of “I love you,’ and ‘congratulations,’ Patrick said. “My dad said it was the best day of his life.”
Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing, called his driver a “fantastic person.”
“I’m thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back,” said Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing. “We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many.”
At the 2005 Indy 500, Patrick nearly won the pole and became the first female driver to lead the race. She wound up fourth, the best finish by a woman at Indy and a result that helped her claim rookie of the year honors.
Sunday’s race, which was delayed a day because of a wet track, was won by a combination of cool composure and shrewd strategy. Patrick took the lead from pole-sitter Helio Castroneves on the 198th lap in the 200-lap race.
“When I had to talk into my radio after the race, all I could say was ‘Thank you,”’ said Patrick, who finished 5.8594 seconds ahead of Castroneves on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval.
“It was a fuel-strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me,” Patrick said. “I knew I was on the same strategy as Helio and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn’t believe it. This is fabulous.”
Patrick started from the third row and made her final pit stop under caution on the 148th lap, along with Castroneves and Ed Carpenter. All the leaders were taking it easy, saving fuel after the ensuing restart and Patrick stayed within sight, realizing she would have a chance when the top contenders headed to the pits late in the race.
Patrick was as low as eighth place on the 189th lap, but Carpenter pitted with about 10 laps to go and she went from fourth to second after Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan pitted on the 196th.
After flying for about 12 hours to attend the finish of the last race in the Champ Car World Series Sunday in Long Beach, Calif., Patrick, appearing refreshed and relaxed, gave a lot of the credit for her win to team engineer Kyle Moyer.
“I knew that the last stint was going to be important, that was a good call from the pits from Kyle Moyer, who calls my races, to pit on the end of the yellow flag.” she said. “It was going to be close on fuel, but we were in the process of giving ourselves the best opportunity possible.
“As soon as we went green after that yellow flag, it was all about saving fuel.”
Patrick said she began to look for Castroneves with about 10 laps to go.
“I knew I was P2 (position two) by then. Five laps later, I see he’s backing up, saving fuel,” she said. “I was like, `Hey, kick it up a notch and get by.’ If this is what it comes down to, you better not think to yourself I wish I had tried a little bit harder.
“It probably would have happened whether I would have pushed or not because it seemed like he was running out of fuel quite a bit at the end. But it was really very nice to drive by him at that point.”
Even then she said she wasn’t sure she was going to win until Moyer came on the radio and told her, “You can use as much fuel as you want. Bring it around, the checkered flag is yours.”
Patrick said, “That was a big relief. A long time I’ve waited for this. I wish it would have happened a long time ago, but I’m not going to argue with the program. It happened the way it was supposed to happen and I believe everything happens for a reason.”
Scott Dixon finished third, 10.0559 seconds behind Patrick. Wheldon was fourth and Kanaan fifth.
In Japan, Castroneves, awarded the pole position after qualifying was rained out Friday, said Patrick ran a great race.
“With five laps to go, I was saving fuel,” Castroneves said. “When Danica passed me, I realized she was the leader. She did a great job, passed me fair and square and that shows you how competitive our series is.”
Danica Patrick 2009
On May 24, Patrick raced at the Indy 500. She finished third behind winner Helio Castroneves and second-place Dan Wheldon. It was her best finish in five attempts, one spot better than her 2005 finish, and a new record high finish for a female driver in the race. The following weekend in Milwaukee Patrick raced to 5th position at the flag. On June 6, she finished the Bombardier Learjet 550 in 6th place, dropping her to fifth place in the IndyCar Series point standings.
Patrick began the season with the Motorola sponsorship from her previous two seasons with AGR, however her car was re-branded for Boost Mobile following the Kansas race. The changes were made public with a drive down the tarmac at the Indianapolis International Airport.
In what was a difficult Honda Indy Toronto qualifying and practice for the entire AGR team, Patrick started the race in the 18th position (her teammates also starting in the rear of the field in 17th, 20th, and 22nd). Patrick had the best finish of the AGR team moving up 12 positions to finish 6th, putting her only three points behind Castroneves for the 4th position in the 2009 points championship.
Danica Patrick on the Web
Why I Love NASCAR: Danica Patrick by Chief 187™ ~ Skirts and ... There are two camps that align when Danica Patrick's name is dropped, those for her and those vehemently against. I fall into a third. I like her well enough, and I respect her more. While I am happy she has decided to spend ...
Danica Patrick preps for Daytona 500 at preseason testing ... Edward Lewis - AHN Sports Reporter Daytona Beach, FL, United States (AHN Sports) - Other than the juggling of the rules packages the biggest excitement of.