Danica notches career-high third

Former Roscoe resident Danica Patrick had race fans on the edge of their seats Saturday night, June 9—and it wasn’t because of a post-race altercation.

One week after drawing headlines for pushing Target Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dan Wheldon in pit lane following her eighth-place finish at the Milwaukee Mile June 3, Patrick drove her black and baby blue No. 7 Andretti Green Racing Honda to a career-best third-place finish in the Bombardier Learjet 550k at Texas Motor Speedway.

Patrick, who briefly led her first two laps of the season earlier in the race, was often the fastest car on the track during the 23 laps after the final restart. During those final laps, Patrick hit speeds of 213-214 mph, and closed a fairly large gap between herself and the two lead cars of Sam Hornish Jr. and her Andretti Green teammate Tony Kanaan.

Patrick closed within inches of Kanaan, but the teammates could not overcome Hornish, who delivered the first win of 2007 for Team Penske Racing.

It was Hornish’s third career win at Texas. He led 159 of the 228 laps. Patrick’s fellow Andretti Green teammate, Indy 500 winner and season points leader Dario Franchitti finished fourth, and Vitor Meira finished fifth.

“I was pushing, but I was also trying to put myself in a position where I could get up behind Tony and try and pass Sam,” Patrick said in a post-race interview. “I was doing the best I could to stay up there. I was flying.”

Kanaan said of Patrick’s first top five of the season: “She did what we’re supposed to do. She drove a hell of a race.”

Patrick’s previous career best finish was fourth, a position she has claimed four times in her 37 IndyCar Series races.

As for Wheldon, he led 52 laps before crashing on lap 196. He finished 15th.

Patrick is seventh in IndyCar Series season points heading into the inaugural Iowa Corn Indy 250 Sunday, June 24, in Newton, Iowa. Race will be broadcast locally at noon on WTVO Channel 17.

from the June 13-19, 2007, issue

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