Danica Patrick Wins the Japan 300
Since her arrival on the international racing scene at the 2005 Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick has been burning rubber and delighting fans. Now she has also made her way into the history books. Patrick became the first female driver to win a major auto racing event while competing in her 50th IndyCar Series race on a closed-course circuit.
This ground breaking event took place on the Twin Ring Motegi oval in Motegi, Japan. Patrick was racing in the Indy Japan 300 when she overtook Helio Castroneves (who placed second) on Lap 198. The pair was followed by Scott Dixon, who took third place, Dan Wheldon, who finished fourth, and Tony Kanaan, who was fifth. Helio Castroneves was only 5.8594 seconds behind Patrick when she crossed the finish line.
After the race fans streamed down from the grandstands to try and get a photo of the latest entry into the history books. The diminutive Patrick, brimming from cheek to cheek and her face covered in tears of joy, quickly made her way to the victory stage to receive her prize. When asked about her win, Danica Patrick told the crowd that the win had been a long time coming. Her and her team had decided it was a fuel strategy race and they had managed to choose the perfect strategy. Patrick said she knew she was using the same strategy as Helio and so she was elated when she was able to pass him and take the lead, enabling her to cross the finish line in first place.
The 26-year-old has come close to finishing first on more than one occasion in the past. In 2005 she finished fourth on the same track and then just a month later she became the first female to lead the Indianapolis 500 where she eventually finished fourth again. Her closest finish up until this point was second place at Belle Isle, which happened last September. Understandably then, the win is a big relief after years of hard work and near-misses.
Jutta Kleinschmidt of Germany was the first to gain the title of “first woman to win a major auto racing event” when she won the Dakar Rally in 2001. Nevertheless, Patrick is the first woman to do so on a closed-course circuit and so her achievement is also remarkable – especially when faced with such tough competition and difficult odds. Danica Patrick will now turn her attention to the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300, which will be held at the Kansas Speedway in a week’s time. No doubt she will continue to find her way to the top if her passion, hard work and determination continues to drive her as well as it has up until this point.