Danica quiets her critics with landmark victory in Japan

Danica Patrick: Magazine cover girl and now IndyCar Series race winner. Patrick finally quieted her critics Sunday in Japan by becoming the first woman to win an IndyCar race. John Oreovicz calls it arguably the most significant motorsports achievement to date for a female driver.

Updated: April 20, 2008, 5:30 PM ET
By John Oreovicz | Special to ESPN.com

LONG BEACH, Calif. -- The final weekend in which American open-wheel racing is split into two entities certainly started with a bang.

With a third of the IndyCar field watching from Long Beach, where the Champ Car World Series is gathered for its grand finale, Danica Patrick scored her long-awaited first IndyCar Series victory. She claimed the rain-delayed Japan Indy 300 by 5.86 seconds over Helio Castroneves and Scott Dixon.

Patrick led only three of 200 laps, and she ...

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