Friday, July 15, 2005
Patrick very happy racing on IRL series
GLADEVILLE, Tenn. -- Danica Patrick is enjoying life very
well right now. And no, she isn't thinking about leaving the Indy
Racing League for some other series like say, NASCAR's Nextel Cup.
"I saw (reigning cup champion) Kurt Busch at the ESPYs. I said,
`I don't know how you do it? How do you do that many races?' He
said, `It's hard. You don't have a life," Patrick said Friday
after earning the outside spot on the front row when rain washed
out qualifying for Saturday night's Firestone Indy 200.
Patrick said she enjoys the 17-race schedule for the IRL's
IndyCar Series as opposed to the 36-race schedule for Nextel Cup.
That leaves her time for the other part of her life.
"And that's relaxing, and that's spending time with my family.
So I'm fortunate enough at this point to be in a position where I
can. What's important for the series is what's important for the
series as well as my sponsor and myself and making a living and
putting myself in position to be racing for fun, for the love of it
and not saying five years from now I have to race to live," she
"I'm in a very good place."
Demands on the rookie sensation have grown with each race and
every new exploit. That prompted track officials to limit Friday
night's autograph session to 400 fans after hearing of lengthy
lines at other tracks over the past month since Patrick finished
fourth at the Indianapolis 500.
^NO OFFENSE NASCAR:@ Buddy Rice thinks people wanting to know
why they should pay attention to the Indy Racing League other than
watching Danica Patrick only have to watch the racing --
particularly the way IRL drivers finish races.
At Kansas two weeks ago, Tony Kanaan edged series leader Dan
Wheldon by 0.0120 seconds in a finish that merely ranked as the
sixth-closest in IndyCar Series history.
Two of the first eight races ended under caution, including the
Indianapolis 500, but running away from the pack usually doesn't
"That's what makes it so exciting with the way the rules and
the way we have everything set," Rice said. "Plus we're racing
hard the whole time, then it comes down to the last 20 laps.
"Everybody pulls everything out, and you see what they have --
the close finishes. Not the wheel banging and finishing under
yellow. It's good racing all the way to the end."
Rice, who won the pole here last year, will start 14th after
spending practice readying his car for race conditions.
^PICKIN' AWAY:@ Alex Barron really loves the trophy given to the
winner of the Firestone Indy 200 -- a customized Gibson guitar. He
won his in 2002 in his first IndyCar Series victory, but hasn't
learned how to play yet.
"I don't know how to play yet, so I just bang on the strings
and act like I know what I'm doing. I tried to learn how to play it
once, but it takes a lot of time to learn. Some day I'm going to
learn, though," Barron said.
^DROP EVERYTHING:@ Sam Hornish Jr. got a call on Monday night
asking if he wanted to attend the All-Star game in Detroit as a
guest of team owner Roger Penske. Of course, he dropped everything.
"It was a great experience, especially to be able to watch the
game from Roger's suite. It was also a good opportunity to spend
some time with Roger away from the track and be able to talk about
things other than racing," Hornish said.
Hornish goes into Saturday night's race fifth in points.
^SPARK PLUGS:@ Helio Castroneves has his first victory as a car
owner. Hoover Orsi won in Sao Paolo, Brazil, last weekend for
NasrCastroneves Racing, the team's first win in two seasons in the
Brazilian Stock Car V8 Championship. The cars in the series feature
Chevrolets with specifications similar to those of NASCAR's Busch