Benny's World

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Brickyard's Lucky Lady

Danica Patrick proves her mettle at Indy
By PAUL NEWBERRY, AP Sports WriterMay 29, 2005

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Danica Patrick not only hung with the boys. She nearly beat them.

Patrick finished fourth in a thrilling conclusion to a dramatic race Sunday, the strongest showing for a woman in Indianapolis 500 history.

``I'm relieved,'' she said. ``I thought for a second we were going to win that thing at the end. When you've got to save fuel at the end, you're not as quick. I stalled in the pits once and I spun it on the green flag once. I went straight to the back a couple of times. I'm so proud of the team.''

Patrick, who qualified fourth as the highest-starting female in the race's history, became the first woman to lead a lap in the 89-year history of the race but her chances of winning were hurt by a couple of rookie mistakes.

Englishman Dan Wheldon took advantage, taking the checkered flag after a duel with Patrick that had fans at the Brickyard on their feet for several laps.

The first mistake came when the 23-year-old Patrick stalled her car in the pits, costing her precious time. Then, after working her way back up to seventh, she lost control with 45 laps to go while the yellow flag was out.

The cars were coming up to speed to take green when Patrick suddenly swerved left in front of Tomas Enge, shearing off her car's nose cone and left wing. The crash knocked out Enge and sent Tomas Scheckter spinning into the inside wall.

``I was beside Danica and she just spun into me,'' Sheckter said. ``Luckily for her, someone was there to keep her from spinning. If I'm not there, she would have spun into the wall.''

Patrick dipped into the pits, managed to get car repaired and got back on the track in 10th place, still on the lead lap.

``I'm sorry,'' Patrick told her crew over the radio. ``They were going so slow. I slowed down, but as soon as I went up high it just stuck.''

She pitted again two laps later to adjust the repairs and fill her tank, then re-took the lead on lap 172 as the leaders pitted.

Wheldon came on strong to overtake her again, but she passed him after a restart on lap 191 before she began slowing. She was running out of fuel.

Patrick, driving for the Rahal Letterman Racing team, started on the inside of the second row directly behind pole-winner Tony Kanaan.

She stayed among the leaders and was still running fourth when those ahead of her -- Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti and Kanaan -- came in for pit stops on the 56th lap.

That put Patrick in front briefly, but she came in for four tires and fuel the next time around and dropped back to fourth as she came onto the track.

My recollection is that she didn't fuel up at 172 as the writer suggests, and that's why she had to conserve her fuel, not winning at the last.

Here is a link to her website. Very impressive. She's breaking all kinds of glass ceilings.

Update May 30: Another story about her historic ride from the Trib today.


  • I have to say.. Danica really proved herself out there on Sunday.. She not showed the nation just what she could do, but she put out the gender card... What a trooper... She should be commended for a job well done.

    By Blogger ANIMAL, at 2:55 PM  

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