May 28, 2008 – Mention Indianpolis-style racing to a casual fan and it’s not this year’s winner Scott Dixon who comes to mind, it’s a tiny brunette for whom a first name suffices. That’s Danica in case you haven’t been paying attention – the first female driver to win a major open-wheel race.
Last Sunday’s 92nd Indy 500 had a decidedly feminine feel with three of the 33 starters in possession of a xx chromosome. Unfortunately, all of them were knocked from the race in crashes, and all were a result of carelessness by their male counterparts.
When a crash happens on the track, the perpetrator often emerges unscathed while the innocent victim is penalized with a costly repair bill. This seems to be the case on lap 105 when Marco Andretti tried an ill-advised pass on teammate Tony Kanaan, who turned into the path of Sarah Fisher, who was merely in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Fisher, who not only drives, but also runs her own race team on a shoestring budget, was obviously distraught. In an interview after the race, “We were hoping to go to Kentucky (the next Indycar stop),” she said, haltingly, “but I don’t think we can.”
Danica Patrick’s exit was as innocent as Fisher’s. Driving for Andretti Green Racing, she was merely exiting the pits when Ryan Briscoe, driving for Team Penske, clipped her while coming out of his own stall. With 29 laps to go, she broke the left rear suspension on a car that had run in the top 10 most of the race.
Patrick ended up finishing 22nd and was steamed after the bang. The passionate driver climbed from her disabled car and strode purposefully toward the offending driver ‘s pit seemingly ready to rumble before Indy security intercepted her.
Milka Duno, the third woman in the field, did a nice job staying on the lead lap for most of the race before spinning out in a a four-tire-flattening single-car spinout caused when she was squeezed out on a pass. Better luck next year ladies!