It’s looking less likely that Danica Patrick will get a ride for the Indianapolis 500…and that’s too bad.
Her best option at one last ride at Indy seems to be fading fast. Chip Ganassi Racing owner Chip Ganassi said recently that talks with Patrick have “stalled”.
“It’s not anyone’s fault or any reason, I think it is just we, sort of, have different things in mind,” added Ganassi. “Nobody is right or wrong here but, yeah, probably not going to happen.”
Count me as a Patrick fan. I’ve followed her career from her days at IndyCar through the NASCAR years. She deserves a better send-off than to simply fade from the racing scene, especially in light of what happened at the NASCAR awards banquet in Las Vegas where Patrick was not even mentioned. I guess it was predictable though. Patrick was this thing that NASCAR never really embraced. She held her own with other drivers and was actually well-liked, but the governing body missed the mark for her importance to the sport.
IndyCar should be a different story, however. I’m sure they’re not wanting to insert themselves into what is clearly a team decision, but Patrick had a huge hand in resurrecting interest in IndyCar when the sport was searching for a spark. She deserves a proper goodbye from the league from whom she got a lot but also gave a ton. She instantly became the most recognizable face of the sport, a female face in a male-dominated industry. It helped bring in sponsors and fans who otherwise didn’t know the difference between a stock car and open-wheel racing.
And unlike NASCAR, Patrick had a fair amount of success racing in IndyCar. 2005 Rookie of the Year and Indianapolis 500 Rookie of the Race. She’s the only female to win an IndyCar race, plus voted IndyCar’s most popular driver for six straight years. She’s also the highest female finisher of a 500, finishing 3rd in 2009.
This is not an argument for entry into the Hall of Fame (which I do think she deserves consideration, but I digress). This is about doing what’s right for one of your sport’s best ambassadors and most popular figures going into retirement. She deserves better.