Danica Patrick was in sight of the leaders all day Sunday during the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and looked to be poised to make a charge toward the front late in the race. All that changed after a pit stop on lap 171.
Danica Patrick was in sight of the leaders all day Sunday during the 92nd running of the Indianapolis 500 and looked to be poised to make a charge toward the front late in the race.
All that changed after a pit stop on lap 171.
Patrick already had left her pits and was in the far lane, getting up to speed to get back on the track. As she passed Ryan Briscoe’s pit, he was exiting his stall and swung wide, encroaching on her lane and striking her car’s left rear wheel.
Neither driver was able to continue. It was the first time in four starts that Patrick hadn’t finished the race.
When the crew ruled her day was done, Patrick stormed out of the car and stomped down pit lane, looking for Briscoe.
A track security guard intercepted her before she could reach Briscoe’s pit and directed her, rather adamantly, behind the pit wall before a confrontation could take place.
“I was going down pit lane, and as people pull out of their pit boxes, if you are in the outside lane, then they have to wait to blend in,” Patrick said later. “From what I know, it looked like it was pretty obvious what happened.
“We worked hard all month and unfortunately we didn’t get to show for it in the end.”
Patrick refused to divulge what she wanted to say – or do – to Briscoe had she been able to make it to his pit.
“It’s probably best I didn’t get down there anyway, isn’t it?” she said.
Briscoe defended himself, saying both were trying to win the race.
“When it’s time to go, we have to go,” Briscoe said. “But from what I can see, there was still plenty of room on the right side for her to get around and there are people pointing fingers, but that’s not the way we are. … I was trying to get around (Dan) Wheldon and I was staying in the middle lane. I got ran up in the back and it’s a shame.”
Seems like old times
In the weeks leading up to the Indianapolis 500, there was much talk of the “buzz” about the race, what with Danica Patrick winning the race in Japan, Helio Castroneves’ mainstream popularity after his win on “Dancing With the Stars,” and, of course, the unification of the open-wheel series.
But how much those elements might come together to begin to revive this race wouldn’t be known until this weekend.
Race day brought increased traffic outside the track, much fuller grandstands and one other element which is always a good gauge of interest in the race.
“The wonderful thing about today, other than us winning, of course, is that the people are back on Georgetown Road,” said Ganassi Racing team managing director Mike Hull, referring to the party atmosphere that develops on the streets outside the racetrack the night before the race.
“That’s the barometer,” Hull said. “When the people are there on Saturday night, the Indy 500 is back.”
Back home again
Jim Nabors missed last year’s Indianapolis 500 because of illness, but the popular television star was back this year to sing his traditional rendition of “Back Home Again in Indiana.”
Nabors received a rousing cheer when he was introduced, and fans could be heard singing along with his signature song.
“I’m just so happy to be back,” Nabors said. “It was very emotional for me to miss it. Last year I was watching the race on TV, in the hospital, with tears streaming down my face.”
Nabors first began singing his “Back Home Again” at the 1972 race.
Running on two wheels
Former MotoGP champion and Owensboro, Ky., native Nicky Hayden made some prerace exhibition laps at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on his Repsol Honda as a preview to the Red Bull Indianapolis GP on Sept. 14.
The laps proved to be a little more of an adventure than Hayden anticipated after he discovered his rear brakes weren’t working.
“That will get your heart rate going a little bit in the morning,” Hayden said jokingly.
This was 2002 Peoria TT champion’s second visit to the track to promote the race and he said he was impressed with the way the Speedway works.
“Indy is not a Ma and Pa store,” he said. “They know about putting on events.”
Jane Miller can be reached at 686-3207 or firstname.lastname@example.org.