CONCORD, N.C. — Danica Patrick still follows the Indianapolis 500 closely, even pre-organizing her race day schedule this Sunday so she can watch most of the event.
As for participating in the race again, that’s a different story.
Patrick, who first earned her popularity in open-wheel racing, said her focus is on the Sprint Cup series and the chances of her running at the Indy 500 become “less and less likely with each passing year.”
“Each year my desire to race there is less and less and my apprehension grows higher and higher,” Patrick told The Associated Press earlier this week.
Patrick said she briefly contemplated pulling “double duty” this year and racing in the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Coca 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on the same day just as her current team owner Tony Stewart has done in the past.
But Patrick thought better of the idea.
“I thought this year was going to happen, but it’s just not going to be helpful for my Cup career,” said Patrick, who has run the Indy 500 seven times. “And at the end of the day, that’s the most important thing.”
Patrick’s history in IndyCar is well known, and she did well at the Indy 500, too. She qualified fourth in 2005, eventually led 29 laps during her open-wheel career and finished third in 2009 after challenging for the win.
Patrick now wants her attention on getting better at NASCAR racing. In her first full season on the Sprint Cup series, Patrick ranks 28th in the point standings with only one top-10 finish, that being an eighth place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500. She’s finished 25th or worse in nine of the 11 Sprint Cup point races this season.
Stewart remains the only driver to complete all 1,100 miles of the two races in the same day, accomplishing that feat in 2001.
Peter Dempsey made Indianapolis Motor Speedway history in the blink of an eye. Literally.
The Irish native looked inside, then darted outside and outraced three other drivers down the front straightaway to win the Freedom 100 by 0.026 seconds over Gabby Chaves — the closest oval finish ever on the world-famous 2.5-mile oval that has hosted races since 1909.
It was unlike any finish IndyCar fans had ever seen at the historic venue.
Firestone Indy Lights points leader Carlos Munoz was in line to earn his third straight win in the series when Chaves and pole-sitter Sage Karam spread out to make it three-wide coming down the home stretch. Then Dempsey made his move, getting outside of Chaves and using the draft and his car’s momentum to slingshot his way past the other three drivers just before crossing the yard of bricks. It was the first career win for Dempsey on IndyCar’s developmental circuit.