Shawn Payne / IRL
Get ready for Danica Mania 2.0… or as Emeril Lagasse might say, “Let’s kick it up a notch!”
Danica Patrick made her mark on history with her win in the Indy Japan 300 at Twin-Ring Motegi, becoming the first female driver ever to win a major open-wheel racing event. The victory in her 50th IndyCar Series start banished forever the questions about when or even if she’d win, as well as the comparisons to other female athletes that had failed to produce wins during their careers. And her timing couldn’t have been much better, providing a huge boost to the IndyCar Series in what has already been a major momentum-building year with reunification and Graham Rahal’s exciting victory in the previous event.
“Finally,” Patrick said in victory lane. “This is a long time coming. It was a fuel strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me. I know I was on the same strategy at Helio (Castroneves) and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn’t believe it. This is fabulous.”
Andretti Green Racing team owner Michael Andretti expressed praise and relief after Patrick’s historic win. “I think Danica is such a fantastic person and I’m thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back. We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many.”
In what turned into a fuel strategy race, Patrick passed pole sitter Helio Castroneves with just three laps to go and took the win by 5.85 seconds. Castroneves finished second, followed by Scott Dixon, Dan Wheldon, and Tony Kanaan. Castroneves remains the overall point leader, with Dixon (-12) in second and Patrick (-14) jumping into the third spot.
The video images of Danica getting out of her car after the race with tears in her eyes, receiving congratulatory hugs from her friends and family, easily qualify as one of the great “moments” in sports. The overwhelming relief, joy, and the realization of dreams accomplished are what make sports so special, and it is quite certain that we’ll be seeing Danica’s victory celebration in highlight reels for years to come.
The following videos were produced by the Indy Racing League and show highlights of the race and other coverage of Danica Patrick’s victory.
Danica’s win at Motegi was just the beginning too, as she immediately began numerous media interviews and appearances upon her return to the United States. She conducted interviews with major news outlets such as The New York Times, Sports Illustrated, USA Today, People magazine, CNBC, CNN, ESPN, national sports radio shows and local Indianapolis-based media. She will appear on “Late Night with David Letterman” and “Larry King Live” on Wednesday, April 23rd. On Thursday April 24th she will appear on “Live with Regis and Kelly” and other morning television shows before getting back to her “real job” at Kansas Speedway on Friday April 25th.
Congratulations to Danica for a well-deserved win!
IndyCar Series Indy Japan 300
Results Sunday of the Indy Japan 300 IndyCar Series event April 20 at the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi, with order of finish, starting position in parentheses, driver, chassis-engine, laps completed and reason out (if any):
1. (6) Danica Patrick, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
2. (1) Helio Castroneves, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
3. (2) Scott Dixon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
4. (5) Dan Wheldon, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
5. (3) Tony Kanaan, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
6. (7) Ed Carpenter, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
7. (10) Ryan Hunter-Reay, Dallara-Honda, 200, Running
8. (12) Darren Manning, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
9. (15) Ryan Briscoe, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
10. (16) Townsend Bell, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
11. (9) Hideki Mutoh, Dallara-Honda, 199, Running
12. (11) Buddy Rice, Dallara-Honda, 198, Running
13. (14) Jay Howard, Dallara-Honda, 192, Running
14. (18) Roger Yasukawa, Dallara-Honda, 134, Mechanical
15. (8) A.J. Foyt IV, Dallara-Honda, 103, Contact
16. (13) Vitor Meira, Dallara-Honda, 92, Contact
17. (17) Marty Roth, Dallara-Honda, 44, Contact
18. (4) Marco Andretti, Dallara-Honda, 0, Contact
Winner’s average speed: 164.258 mph
Time of race: 1:51:02.6739
Margin of victory: 5.8594 seconds
Cautions: 4 caution flags for 29 laps
Lead changes: 5 among 4 drivers
Lap leaders: Castroneves 1-93, Dixon 94-194, Wheldon 195-196, Castroneves 197-197, Patrick 198-200.
Point standings: Castroneves 112, Dixon 100, Patrick 98, Kanaan 89, Wheldon 85, Carpenter 70, Andretti 65, Hunter-Reay 65, Mutoh 59, Manning 58.
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