Danica Patrick relieved with Indy 500 qualifying pace after tough start

Danica Patrick is "relieved" to have exceeded her expectations in making the 'Fast Nine' for the Indianapolis 500 because she felt off the pace in her first day of testing

Danica Patrick relieved with Indy 500 qualifying pace after tough start

Ed Carpenter Racing's Patrick narrowly made the top nine on the first day of qualifying after Andretti's Alexander Rossi's second attempt fell just short in 10th.

It marked a turnaround from her initial return to IndyCar, where she passed her veteran refresher test late in the day and found the car hard to drive and its steering heavy.

In the four days of testing prior to Saturday's qualifying, she was never higher than 12th fastest on the timesheets.

Patrick says her early lack of pace made a Fast Nine slot all the more surprising, ahead of the final race of her career.

This [top nine slot] exceeded it [expectations]," she said. "I have high expectations for doing well here.

"That's why I was fortunate enough to be able to drive for Ed. They always have great cars, especially here at Indy. They're always very strong.

"But to think that I was going to come back and be in the Fast Nine right off the bat - I was doing 208mph [laps] at the test the first day and thought: 'I might not be able to do this'. 228[mph] is much better."

Patrick added that while she was relieved to make the top nine, it was difficult to assess the competitive picture.

"I'm definitely relieved. The tough thing is that I feel like there's so much race running as well as qualifying sim running," she said.

"There's not that much qualifying sim running, mostly race running.

"There's a bit of a question mark how fast people are, at least from my perspective, [and] also getting familiar with the new combinations and drivers. I didn't really know.

"Having done 228[mph] with three-quarters of the track ahead of me open, I got that feeling like, 'All right'.

"At the end of the day, it was very stressful. So I'm looking forward to a fun day. I was just getting familiar."

Patrick ensured that all three ECR cars made it into Sunday's Fast Nine, with Ed Carpenter the second fastest driver on Saturday.

Carpenter added he was proud of ECR's result and the fact it gave Patrick a strong platform for her final race.

"We were really happy to put Danica in a great position for her final ride and be a part of that history," he said.

"If all three cars have a chance for the pole, it is truly a testament to the team and how hard they work, how dedicated they are, and what a good group we have.

"It really is a team effort to have three cars that are as close in performance as we are.

"When you look across the paddock and how hard it is in this field, not all teams can do that."

shares
comments
James Hinchcliffe: 'Devastating' to get bumped out of 2018 Indy 500

Previous article

James Hinchcliffe: 'Devastating' to get bumped out of 2018 Indy 500

Next article

Indy 500 qualifying: Ed Carpenter beats Penske drivers to 2018 pole

Indy 500 qualifying: Ed Carpenter beats Penske drivers to 2018 pole
Load comments

About this article

Series IndyCar
Drivers Danica Patrick
Author Tom Errington
The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed Plus

The Indycar season that proves Michael Andretti is better than F1 showed

Often unfairly characterised as a car-breaker, judged for his lack of an Indianapolis 500 win and a disappointing part-season of Formula 1 in 1993, Michael Andretti was highly respected by his rivals and only thwarted greater success by ill-fortune. When it all came together in 1991, he was a truly formidable force

IndyCar
Mar 6, 2021
How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite Plus

How McLaren is striving towards IndyCar's elite

The second year of McLaren's full-time IndyCar return is looming, with Patricio O'Ward and Felix Rosenqvist leading its line-up. Strong team personnel and work behind the scenes means that 2021 could be the year it joins the established elite

IndyCar
Feb 21, 2021
The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart Plus

The enigmatic legacy of a misunderstood Indy stalwart

Flashes of brilliance amid spells of obscurity have been too common for Marco Andretti. While the third-generation racer has opted to bring his full-time IndyCar career to a close, his peaks and troughs have never been for want of trying

IndyCar
Jan 20, 2021
Why American racing's top dog is without equal Plus

Why American racing's top dog is without equal

A byword for success in business and in motorsport for over 50 years, Roger Penske's importance to the US scene cannot be understated. In an exclusive interview, the custodian of the IndyCar Series and Indianapolis Motor Speedway reflects on his journey

IndyCar
Jan 11, 2021
The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete Plus

The McLaren that rendered its Indy rivals obsolete

When founder Bruce McLaren died in June 1970, his team could have folded. Instead, his loyal band rallied to produce a string of winners - including an Indycar game-changer that won its third Indianapolis 500 five years after its debut

IndyCar
Dec 22, 2020
Why Newgarden's best IndyCar season yet wasn't enough Plus

Why Newgarden's best IndyCar season yet wasn't enough

Josef Newgarden feels he didn't put a foot wrong in 2020, yet his finest season-long run of performances failed to yield a third series championship. But in a warning shot to Scott Dixon, Team Penske's team leader has vowed to redouble his efforts in 2021

IndyCar
Dec 21, 2020
How Dixon held on in IndyCar's most unpredictable season Plus

How Dixon held on in IndyCar's most unpredictable season

Three wins on the trot gave the Chip Ganassi Racing superstar the cushion he needed to hang on for a sixth title in the face of Josef Newgarden's late challenge. Here's the rundown of a typically frantic IndyCar campaign in an extraordinary year

IndyCar
Nov 28, 2020
The balancing act required for improving racing at Indy Plus

The balancing act required for improving racing at Indy

Calls for an improvement in the racing spectacle at the Indianapolis 500 have been met with small aerodynamic tweaks from IndyCar on superspeedways. But where such high speeds are involved, even minor adjustments require significant planning

IndyCar
Oct 31, 2020