Danica Sue Patrick (born March 25, 1982 in Beloit, Wisconsin) is an American auto racing driver, currently competing in the IndyCar Series, as well as a model and advertising spokeswoman. She was raised in Roscoe, Illinois. Patrick was named the Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season. In May 2006, she published her autobiography, Danica: Crossing the Line. With her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300, Patrick became the first woman to win an Indy car race. Patrick currently drives the #7 Boost Mobile/GoDaddy.com Honda/Dallara for Andretti Green Racing. She also has an equity stake in her #7 team. She placed 3rd in the 2009 Indianapolis 500, which was both a personal best for her at the track and the highest finish by a woman in the event's history.
Patrick began go-karting in 1992 at the age of 10, and went on to win several World Karting Association championships. She moved to England at the age of 16 in order to advance her racing career. Patrick raced in Formula Ford and Formula Vauxhall, earning a second-place finish in Britain's Formula Ford Festival, the highest finish by a woman in the event.
In 2002, Patrick started driving for Rahal Letterman Racing in the United States. After making several starts in the Barber Dodge Pro Series, she moved to the Toyota Atlantic Championship for 2003. Patrick won one pole position and was a consistent podium finisher (top three); however, she never won a race. In 2004, Patrick finished third in the Championship.
IRL IndyCar Series
After the 2004 racing season, Rahal Letterman Racing officially announced that Patrick would drive in the IRL IndyCar Series for 2005.
On May 29, 2005, Patrick became only the fourth woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, following Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher. After posting the fastest practice speed of the month (229.880 mph/369.956 km/h) during the morning practice session on the first day of qualifications (May 15), she made an error in the first turn of her first qualifying lap, and failed to capture the pole position, which instead went to Tony Kanaan. Patrick's fourth starting position, however, was still the highest ever attained for the race by a female driver. Patrick became the first female driver to lead the race at Indianapolis, first when acquiring it for a lap near the 125-mile (201 km) mark while cycling through pit stops, and late in the race when she stayed out one lap longer than her rivals during a set of green-flag pit stops. Patrick overcame two crucial errors to finish fourth in the race, the same position in which she started: Patrick's car stalled in the pits about halfway through the 500-mile (800 km) race, dropping her to the middle of the field; and shortly after reclaiming a spot in the top 10, Patrick spun on a caution period just before an intended green flag leading to a four car accident. The accident caused damage to Patrick's car that was limited to the nose and front wing. Her pit crew promptly made repairs, and due to the subsequent yellow, Patrick was able to rejoin the field having lost only one position. When the leaders pitted for fuel on lap 172, Patrick stayed out to take the lead. On lap 194, eventual race winner and 2005 series champion Dan Wheldon passed her as she was forced to slow in order to conserve fuel. Patrick was subsequently passed by both Bryan Herta and her teammate Vitor Meira. Patrick's fourth place was the highest ever finish for a female driver at the Indy 500, besting the previous record of ninth set by Janet Guthrie in 1978. Patrick led 19 laps overall.
On July 2, 2005, Patrick won her first pole position, leading a 1-2-3 sweep by Rahal Letterman Racing at Kansas Speedway. She became the second woman to accomplish this feat in the IndyCar Series, the first being Sarah Fisher in 2002 at Kentucky Speedway. On August 13, 2005, she won her second pole at Kentucky Speedway, although this time, rain prematurely ended qualifying and position was determined by speeds achieved during practice. She took a third pole at Chicagoland Speedway which tied her with Tomas Scheckter's record for number of pole positions earned in a rookie season.
In 2005, Patrick finished 12th in the IndyCar Series championship, with 325 points. She was named Rookie of the Year for both the 2005 Indianapolis 500 and the 2005 IndyCar Series season.
During the offseason following the 2005 racing year, Patrick competed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona along with co-driver Rusty Wallace in January 2006.
Patrick competed in the 2006 IndyCar Series season giving her another chance at qualifying and racing in the Indianapolis 500. In the first race of the season, the Toyota Indy 300 at Homestead, Patrick qualified third behind the Penske Racing teammates of Helio Castroneves and Sam Hornish, Jr. However, tragedy struck as RLR teammate Paul Dana was killed in a crash during practice the morning of the race. Patrick and Buddy Rice withdrew from the race immediately. The two resumed their 2006 IndyCar campaign with the second race of the year at St. Petersburg
At the Indy 500, Patrick started eighth and finished eighth. After Watkins Glen, RLR switched to the Dallara chassis and the team struggled to adapt. Patrick struggled to remain competitive, but her fourth place finishes at Nashville and Milwaukee tied her career best IndyCar finishes. At Michigan, Patrick's car ran out of fuel with three laps to go and she fell to 17th. She rebounded at Kentucky and Infineon to finish 8th in both races.
In her final race with RLR at Chicagoland, Patrick recorded a 12th place finish and a 9th place finish in the IndyCar Series Championship point standings, besting her 12th place points finish as a rookie.
In November, the March of Dimes awarded her the title of Sportswoman of the Year in celebration of her dedication and success.
On July 25, 2006, Patrick announced she had signed a deal to drive for Andretti Green Racing, replacing Bryan Herta in the number 7 Dallara Honda car beginning in 2007. Patrick's car is sponsored by Motorola, XM radio and Go Daddy.
In Patrick's first race with AGR at Homestead on March 24 she finished 14th after crashing into the pit wall on lap 154. She finished 8th at St. Pete and 11th at Japan. At Kansas she had her best finish of the year at that point, finishing 7th.
In April 2007, Patrick launched her official fan club The Danica Maniacs to help foster greater interaction between her and her fans.
Patrick ended up starting and finishing eighth in the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500. She ran as high as 2nd to Tony Kanaan after the mid-race rain delay. After a pit stop, she dropped back in the field. Patrick was working her way back to the front until the race was ended under the caution caused by Marco Andretti's accident due to the subsequent rain on lap 166.
At Milwaukee, Patrick started second to last but moved up quickly to 5th before contact with Dan Wheldon. Patrick managed to save the car from hitting anything but the wreck caused aerodynamic damage. She used a timely caution to get back on the lead lap and finish 8th. After the race she and Wheldon had a heated exchange after she tried to confront him about the wreck.
Following the incident at Milwaukee, Patrick rebounded with a career night at Texas in the Bombardier Learjet 550. She ran with the lead pack throughout the entire race and led a race for the first time since 2005. She finished less than a second behind winner Sam Hornish, Jr., a then career-best third, her first "podium" finish.
Her good fortune would only be temporary as she was involved in one of the several crashes at Iowa to finish 13th. She would however rebound at Richmond to run in the top 10 all night before finishing 6th.
She followed that up with an 11th place finish at Watkins Glen before running in the top 5 all day and finishing 3rd at Nashville. At Mid-Ohio she finished 5th (her best career road course finish) despite being involved in a lap 1 accident that sent her into the grass briefly.
Patrick continued to have bad luck at Michigan International Speedway as previous years have seen Patrick retire from the race early due to fuel and other troubles. At the 2007 running, a flat tire in the late portion of the race forced Patrick to pit and dropped her to a 7th place finish.
Her terrible luck would continue at Kentucky as she ran in the lead group all night and appeared headed towards another podium finish when she spun out exiting pit road with less than 50 laps to go. After restarting from that spin, a rear tire on Patrick's car blew leading to a crash and forcing her to retire from the race.
Her luck would get a little better at Infineon as she ran in the top 10 and finished 6th. However a series of slow pit stops kept her from what could have been an even better finish.
At Belle Isle, Patrick started 11th and was involved in two accidents from which she was able to restart without damage, eventually driving to the front and leading 9 laps of the race before falling back after having to pit. On the final lap, while Patrick was running in 5th, Buddy Rice, Scott Dixon and teammate Dario Franchitti were involved in an accident immediately in front of her. Patrick was able to avoid the wreck and finish in second place, a career-high in the IndyCar Series and tying her with Dreyer & Reinbold Racing driver Sarah Fisher for best finish in IndyCar racing by a female.
At the season finale in Chicagoland Speedway, Patrick ran most of the race in the top 6, but had to make a pit stop for fuel with 7 laps to go. When entering pit lane, Patrick spun-out but avoided damage to her car. With assistance from her pit crew, Patrick was able to refire the engine, make a complete pit stop and reenter the race, finishing 11th overall.
For the 2007 season as a whole, Patrick scored her first three career podium finishes to finish with 4 top 5's and 11 top 10's while leading 17 laps on the season. She also scored her career best championship points finish of 7th with 424 points.
Patrick won her first IRL race at the 2008 Indy Japan 300, and became first woman to win an IndyCar Series race.
To begin the 2008 season, her second with AGR, Patrick scored her best career Homestead finish of 6th. She followed that up with another top 10 by scoring a 10th place finish at St. Petersburg.
Patrick won at Twin Ring Motegi in the Indy Japan 300 on April 20, 2008, becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race, joining the ranks of drag racer Shirley Muldowney, who won three NHRA Top Fuel Championships, as a "first female" winner in the top tier of American motorsports. Patrick took the Indy Japan 300 after the race leaders were forced to pit for fuel in the final laps. She finished 5.8594 seconds ahead of the Brazilian pole-sitter Helio Castroneves, who ran out of fuel in the final turns on the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) Twin Ring Motegi oval.
Her team owner, Michael Andretti, commented, "I'm thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back."
A mechanical problem late in the race RoadRunner Turbo 300 at Kansas Speedway forced Patrick to retire early from the race.
During practice for the 2008 Indianapolis 500, Patrick's car struck a member of Dale Coyne Racing's pit crew when she came into the pits on May 9. During the Indianapolis 500 on May 25, 2008, she retired from the race early after a collision in the pitlane. As Ryan Briscoe exited his pitbox the two cars collided, damaging Patrick's left rear suspension and eliminating both from the race. After being pushed back to her own pit, Patrick left her car and headed down pit road towards Briscoe's pit at which point IMS security intervened, preventing an on-track confrontation.
Following Indy, Patrick finished 9th at Milwaukee and 10th at Texas, with both races ending under yellow flag conditions. At Iowa and Richmond she stayed out of the many crashes during these races and finished 6th in each event.
Overall, she finished the 2008 IndyCar Series season in sixth place - the highest championship finish among American drivers for the 2008 season.
During the offseason following the 2008 racing year, Patrick made her second appearance in the Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2009 .
On May 24, Patrick raced at the Indy 500. She finished third behind winner Helio Castroneves and second-place Dan Wheldon. It was her best finish in five attempts, one spot better than her 2005 finish, and a new record high finish for a female driver in the race. The following weekend in Milwaukee Patrick raced to 5th position at the flag. On June 6, she finished the Bombardier Learjet 550 in 6th place, dropping her to fifth place in the IndyCar Series point standings.
Patrick began the season with the Motorola sponsorship from her previous two seasons with AGR, however her car was rebranded for Boost Mobile following the Kansas race. The changes were made public with a drive down the tarmac at the Indianapolis International Airport.
In what was a difficult Honda Indy Toronto qualifying and practice for the entire AGR team, Patrick started the race in the 18th position (her teammates also starting in the rear of the field in 17th, 20th, and 22nd). Patrick had the best finish of the AGR team moving up 12 positions to finish 6th, putting her only three points behind Castroneves for the 4th position in the 2009 points championship.