Women’s History Month: Profile: Danica Patrick

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Danica Patrick (1982- )—who was born in Beloit, Wis., raised in Roscoe and now resides in Phoenix, Ariz.—in 2005 became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500. Her fourth-place starting position and fourth-place finish in the race rank as all-time bests for female drivers.

Patrick, who began karting in 1992, was the fourth woman to start the Indianapolis 500. She first acquired the lead in the 2005 race near the 125-mile mark, and was leading the race with 11 laps to go before being forced to slow down to conserve fuel. She gave up the lead on lap 194. Start to finish, she led a total of 19 laps.

2005 was Patrick’s first season in American open-wheel racing’s top class—the Indy Racing League (IRL). During the season, she tied a rookie record of three poll positions (Kansas, Kentucky, Chicagoland), and beat out fellow rookie Tomas Enge to become the first woman to claim the Bombardier Rookie of the Year Award. She finished 12th in the 2005 series standings.

In January, Patrick competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with co-driver Rusty Wallace. She hosts several shows on Spike TV, and has been featured on the covers of Sports Illustrated, TV Guide and ESPN: The Magazine.

The 2006 IRL season begins Sunday, March 26, with a 2:30 p.m. start to the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Indianapolis 500 is set for a 1 p.m. start at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Sunday, May 28. Fans can watch for Patrick’s No. 16 Rahal Letterman Racing Honda during both races, broadcast on ABC.

From the March 22-28, 2006, issue

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