American Danica Patrick of Andretti Green Racing sprays champagne with second-place Brazil's Helio Castroneves of Team Penske on the podium after winning the Indy Japan 300 auto racing at Twin Ring Motegi in Motegi, northeast of Tokyo Sunday, April 20, 2008. Associated Press Photo/Katsumi Kasahara.
Danica Patrick creates history by becoming the first female Indycar winner at the Indy Japan 300 Race. The 26-year-old won by almost six seconds from Brazilian Helio Castroneves after the race favourites were forced to pit for fuel in the closing laps in Motegi's Twin Ring Circuit. This is also Danica Patrick's first win ever since she started racing professionaly. It's been a long time coming; Danica has been hyped by her racing teams and has marketed herself on her looks, and has faced sexist remarks from her male competitors...
Patrick finished 5.8594 seconds ahead of pole-sitter Helio Castroneves on the 1.5-mile Twin Ring Motegi oval after leader Scott Dixon pitted with five laps left and Dan Wheldon and Tony Kanaan came in a lap later. "It's a long time coming. Finally," Patrick said. "It was a fuel strategy race, but my team called it perfectly for me. I knew I was on the same strategy as Helio and when I passed him for the lead, I couldn't believe it. This is fabulous."
Castroneves, awarded the pole position after qualifying was rained out Friday, said Patrick ran a great race. "With five laps to go, I was saving fuel," Castroneves said. "When Danica passed me, I realized she was the leader. She did a great job, passed me fair and square and that shows you how competitive our series is." Patrick finished a career-best seventh in the season standings last year, and was second in the race at Detroit's Belle Isle. At the 2005 Indy 500, she nearly won the pole and became the first female driver to lead the race en route to a fourth-place finish. It was the best finish by a woman at Indy, and helped her take rookie of the year honors.
"I think Danica is such a fantastic person and I'm thrilled for her that the monkey is finally off of her back," said Michael Andretti, co-owner of Andretti Green Racing. "We have all believed in her and she proved today that she is a winner. Frankly, I think this is the first of many."
Previously Danica was racing for the Rahal Letterman Racing team before switching to Andretti in 2007. Apart from the IndyCar Series Patrick has also taken part in the American Le Mans Series, Formula Ford, and Toyota Atlantic. She started racing in go-karts at the age of ten!
Because she went through many racing seasons without winning anything, but still managed to appear on TV shows, in advertisements, and magazines, people compared her to the Russian tennis star Anna Kournikova. Her male counterparts, like Bernie Ecclestones of Formula One said to her, "women should be dressed in white, like all other domestic appliances". Another neanderthal Jenson Button had said, "A girl with big boobs would never be comfortable in the car. And the mechanics wouldn't concentrate. Can you imagine strapping her in?"
Gee Mr. Button, how comfortable were you and your "package" while driving? Would a gay mechanic have trouble strapping you in?
Though Danica Patrick has taken advantage of her looks to appear on TV shows and in magazines to make money. Danica was the first Indy racer, since Al Unser, to appear on the cover of Sports Illustrated (June 2005). This year she also posed for the swimsuit edition of the magazine:
Danica Patrick says that she will never pose in the nude, which is why she refused an offer from Playboy to have her photos taken for that magazine. Although Danica does say that she stays nude under the racing suit while driving because: "They (her underwear) get in the way." Don't know if she was joking or serious?
Danica has an athletic body but is short (5'2") and light (weighing under 100 pounds); by comparison the smallest model in the 2008 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue was Jarah Mariano at 5'7"!