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Danica Patrick’s Racing History

  • In 2000, Patrick first made a name for herself in international racing circles by taking second in England’s prestigious Formula Ford Festival at the world-renowned Brands Hatch circuit. She became the highest-finishing female driver and matched Indy 500 and IndyCar champion Danny Sullivan as the highest-finishing American driver in the event’s history.

 

  • Patrick’s performance at the Festival led to a position driving for Bobby Rahal, who had successfully transitioned from a championship-winning IndyCar driver into a IndyCar team owner, and was about to embark on a season of managing the Jaguar Formula 1 team. Patrick ran a handful of races in the open-wheel Barber Dodge development series in 2002 before moving full time into the higher-level Toyota Atlantic Championship development series in 2003.

 

  • The Atlantic series helped launch the careers of several drivers, including Rahal. Patrick competed against former NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver AJ Allmendinger; Ryan Dalziel (winner of the three crown jewels of sports car racing:  The Rolex 24 At Daytona, the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring); Joey Hand (who has also won both the Rolex 24 and Sebring); and two-time GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series champion Jon Fogarty.

 

  • Patrick finished on the podium with a third-place performance in her first Atlantic race in Monterrey, Mexico. She closed out the 2003 season with a second-place run on a street circuit in downtown Miami, and scored her first Atlantic pole on the road course in Portland, Oregon in 2004. “There were a lot of good Atlantic drivers in the series those two years, and she had a pole position and finished near the top,” said Rahal. “That’s typical Danica. She knows how to finish and she knows how to finish well. In those cars, she certainly showed that she belonged and she certainly showed that she was ready for the next step.”

 

  • Next step: IndyCar. Patrick qualified on the front row in just her fourth race on the tricky Twin Ring Motegi oval in Japan before setting the racing world on its ear at the Indianapolis 500, where she started fourth, led 19 laps and became the highest-finishing woman in Indy 500 history with a fourth-place result. “People forget that in Japan prior to Indy, she qualified on the front row and led the first 20 or 30 laps of the race,” Rahal said. “She’s not short on bravery. What was most impressive at Indy in ’05 was, during the first week, every day it got crazier and crazier and crazier. Under tremendous media pressure, she really kept it together.”

 

  • The Indy 500 performance turned Danica into a household name, and the legend grew when she became the first woman to win an IndyCar race with her victory in Japan in 2008.

 

  • Patrick finished sixth in her stock car debut in an ARCA race at Daytona in 2010, and she kicked off her first full NASCAR Nationwide Series season with her first stock car pole at 2011 Daytona. That season, Patrick scored the best finish by a female in NASCAR national series history, finishing fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

 

  • In 2012, she again made NASCAR national series history, finishing the NASCAR Nationwide Series season 10th in points, the highest points finish ever by a female.

 

  • Earlier that season, she made her NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in the Daytona 500, becoming the third female to race in “The Great American Race.”

 

  • Patrick opened the 2013 season by winning the Coors Light Pole for the Daytona 500, becoming the first woman to win a pole in NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history.

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Posted by on February 23, 2013. Filed under Breaking News,NASCAR. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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