Published: Sat, May 05, 2018
Research | By Derrick Holloway

Indy 500: Seven years (84 months) later, Danica Patrick returns

Indy 500: Seven years (84 months) later, Danica Patrick returns

Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles, Hulman Motorsports Senior Vice President of Events Allison Melangton, and INDYCAR President of Competition and Operations Jay Frye are discussing all of the on-track and off-track events in Indy throughout the month.

"I've been waiting to get this day over with for a long time", Patrick said with a smile following her completion of the veteran refresher program Tuesday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Seven years after leaving for another racing series, Danica Patrick officially returned to IndyCar. She's been here every year racing in NASCAR's Brickyard 400, but she hasn't been behind the wheel of an Indy Car since 2011. "Not in a negative sense, but it's been seven years since I drove an Indy vehicle here, it's been a long time".

"I feel like tomorrow (the goal is) just a smooth day where I get flat out and feel the changes, have good information leading into two weeks from now where we really are going to have to get down to business", she finished. So I don't know what the heck I've been doing because I feel a lot stronger than when I was here before.

Patrick will be driving for Ed Carpenter Racing in what will be her last race before retiring from motorsport. "I remember that feeling and as time wore on, I missed that relevancy of being in the game, being someone like before the race when they're like, 'Who do you think is going to win today?' My name didn't pop up in NASCAR". The Indianapolis 500 will be Sunday, May 27th and you can see it on WTVO 17.

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Is she really at less of a disadvantage than she would ordinarily be since everyone else is also learning the new auto at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, even the full-time veterans of the series?

Patrick admitted she slept much better after getting through the "Refresher Test" because of the stress level. But I did not feel very strong out there. The vehicle feels like it has some good natural speed.

The Manufacturers' test saw Chevy make a statement as the unofficial laps by A.J. Foyt Racing's Tony Kanaan (226.7mph), Ed Carpenter Racing's Ed Carpenter (225.4mph) and Harding Racing's Gabby Chaves (224.0mph) took the top three positions. I'm going to try to achieve that this month.

Because it was a private manufacturers test, speeds and other data were not released to the public. I want to get through that (refresher test) so I can get to the fun part, which is really running, making changes, making it faster and feeling really comfortable.

"The vehicle just felt very hard to drive", Patrick said. The touring auto veteran drove the IMS road course configuration once, but the oval, as well as the entire Indianapolis 500 experience, is entirely foreign to him.

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"For me, I forget that it's not really Indy yet", she said.

"Today was about building confidence and not breaking it", Patrick said. I'm also used to power steering driving stock cars, and these don't have that.

"Stock cars are way easier to drive than an Indy auto". She described this as "definitely the biggest discomfort today" and her most obvious challenge moving forward. That deal didn't come together until January and the crew had to get a vehicle ready in time for her in the race.

"When we come back here for practice on May 15, we will be as ready as humanly possible", Patrick said.

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