In most IZOD IndyCar Series race markets, Danica Patrick kicks off the event weekend with a media availability. It's an opportunity for a new group of local reporters to ask pretty much the same questions Patrick faces every week.
The Iowa Corn Indy 250 was no exception, and the focus was on Patrick's busy upcoming schedule, including her next NASCAR Nationwide Series appearance at New Hampshire Motor Speedway this Saturday.
AP Photo/Conrad SchmidtDanica Patrick said her car faded on her as the race went on, but she did manage to finish 10th.
But Danica dashed local hopes by confirming that she won't be in JR Motorsports' No. 7 Nationwide car when the series visits Iowa Speedway on July 31, even though it is an off weekend for the IndyCar Series.
The Iowa race on Sunday was the last of four consecutive oval events for the IndyCar Series and marked the conclusion of the first half of the season. Patrick wasn't pleased with the balance of her Andretti Autosport car in practice, running just 22nd fastest. However, she made a big improvement in qualifying to grid ninth in the 25-car field.
"I'm happy with the way qualifying went," she said. "I was flat out the last two laps of the run, and I haven't been able to get flat all day."
The Andretti team's 2010 resurgence continued on race day. Marco Andretti qualified third and led laps early before fading with handling problems, and Ryan Hunter-Reay and Tony Kanaan were very strong on race day. Hunter-Reay worked up to third but lost a lap through a pit penalty and finished eighth. Meanwhile, Kanaan was the fastest man on the track, blazing through the field from 15th on the grid to claim his first race win in more than two years.
Patrick drove a steady race, but she fell a lap down to the leaders on Lap 172 and finished 10th.
"I wish we had a better day, but we'll take a top-10 finish," Patrick said. "It was a challenging race. We had a good car, but the longer the race went on, the more difficult the car got, handlingwise."