By Doug Halberstadt
The 100th anniversary running of the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be broadcast live on ABC this Sunday, May 29, at noon. Canadian Alex Tagliani earned the pole and will lead the 33-car field to the green flag. 2008 Indianapolis 500 winner New Zealander Scott Dixon will be alongside Tagliani in the front row.
Former Roscoe resident and local fan favorite Danica Patrick will be running in her seventh Indy 500. There has been a fair amount of speculation that this could be her final attempt at winning “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.”
A win at the famed brickyard would more than likely seal the deal in her anticipated full-time move to NASCAR in 2012. “I suppose anything is possible. But I know, for me, I haven’t made any of those decisions yet,” Patrick said during a news conference Thursday, May 19, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “This is a special event in and of itself. Indy is my favorite race in the world—every everything.
“So, like I just said, I love everything about this place,” she continued. “I love the tradition. I love the race itself. So many times you can come away from this event, after 500 miles, and think of how your strategy could have put you in Victory Circle. I think that’s why people love this place and so many people come back. So many people have that story as to how they could have maybe won the Indy 500, which is for me the ultimate goal. I would imagine for a lot of people, it’s the ultimate goal. It’s definitely high up on the list.
“I just love this event,” she said. “So I don’t know where the future is going to take me, but I know those things.”
Patrick has had a fair amount of success at Indy. She has five top 10 finishes in her previous six starts. Her best finish was third in 2009. In 2005, she made history by becoming the first woman to lead a lap in the event and finish on the lead lap. She led a total of 19 laps in that race, and ended up finishing fourth after being forced to slow down to conserve fuel.
Patrick was asked if there would be a void in her life if a move to NASCAR would prevent her from competing again in the Indy 500. “I think whatever happens, I’ll take into consideration that this is a huge event,” Patrick said. “I think I’ve had great memories here, no matter what. I don’t know. I think that’s a question I don’t really have an answer to. I’m not there yet, so I don’t know yet. I haven’t thought about those kinds of things. But all I know is, I know I’m going to do my best to try to win this year, and see what happens.”
Perhaps we’ll all know “what happens” following Sunday’s race.
Doug Halberstadt can be reached via e-mail at Dougster61@aol.com.
From the May 25-31, 2011 issue