8:17 AM

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Car owner expects to re-sign Danica Patrick

SONOMA, Calif. -- Owner Michael Andretti is confident Andretti Green Racing will re-sign Danica Patrick beyond this IndyCar season -- and perhaps soon.

Andretti said the sides are "close" to an agreement and he gave Patrick a big hug and best wishes moments before the start of Sunday's 75-lap Sonoma Grand Prix at Infineon Raceway, the final road course event of the year. Patrick was part of a multi-car crash in Lap 1 and finished 16th. She couldn't be reached for comment afterward regarding the potential deal with Andretti.

"I think we're getting close," Andretti told The Associated Press in pit row. "She wants to be here. We want her to be here. I've been saying that for a while."

Patrick had to be encouraged that all five AGR drivers qualified top-12 Saturday on the challenging 12-turn, 2.303-mile road course at Infineon. Patrick came into Sunday's race fifth in points at 321. Her season-best finish of third at the Indianapolis 500 was the top ever by a female in the event's history.

The 27-year-old Patrick is in the final year of her three-year IndyCar contract with Andretti Green Racing. She has said she'll wait until the end of the season to solidify her next move. But she hasn't ruled out a switch to NASCAR, a series that would give the glamour girl tremendous earning potential in both salary, sponsorship and marketing opportunities.

She has visited several NASCAR shops in North Carolina, including points leader Tony Stewart's new team.

Andretti said he's been in talks with Patrick's representatives at IMG and hasn't yet spoken directly to Patrick about her future with Andretti Green Racing. He's encouraged that something could be done soon.

"I hope so, it'd be nice," Andretti said. "Nothing's final."

News and Photos Source: The Associated Press

6:00 PM

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Winning Hasn't Been Easy For Danica Patrick

Source: LA Times
By Jim Peltz
May 23, 2009
Reporting from Indianapolis -- Danica Patrick's ability to market herself is without question. But can she win another race?

Patrick will make her fifth attempt Sunday to win her sport's biggest prize, the Indianapolis 500, the race that rocketed her to stardom when she led and nearly won it in 2005, her rookie year.

Patrick starts 10th in the 33-car field this year in her No. 7 car prepared by Andretti Green Racing.

But getting to the front won't be easy. The 1-2 starters, pole-sitter Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe, drive for powerhouse Team Penske, which has 14 Indy 500 wins.

Castroneves, a two-time Indy 500 winner who won the pole with an average speed of 224.864 mph, also was the fastest driver in Friday's final practice -- so-called "carb day," a throwback term from when teams used the last practice to fine-tune the cars' carburetors for race day. (They use fuel-injection engines now.)

And the IndyCar Series' other leading team, Target Chip Ganassi Racing, has 2007 Indy 500 winner Dario Franchitti starting third and defending Indy 500 winner and series champion Scott Dixon starting fifth.

"I have been fortunate enough to be close to winning this race in the past, and I hope this year is no different," Patrick said.

"I'm really excited but on the other hand nervous. There is so much history behind this race, and it's the race that everyone wants to win."

After nearly winning four years ago, "Danica" quickly joined the likes of Kobe (Bryant) and Tiger (Woods) in becoming one of the most popular single-name figures in sports.

With her good looks and media-savvy personality, the Illinois native posed in Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue and for other magazines, became a familiar spokeswoman for her sponsors and soon drew the biggest crowds among IndyCar drivers.

Winning, though, has come less easily.

Patrick became the first woman to win a major U.S.-sanctioned open-wheel series race a year ago at Motegi, Japan, when a late-race fuel-mileage gamble paid off.

Otherwise, Patrick has only three top-three finishes -- all in 2007 -- in her other 66 career starts. She finished 22nd in last year's Indy 500 after colliding with Briscoe coming out of the pits.

Patrick was 23rd fastest in the final practice Friday.

Here's the outlook for some other drivers in the race:

Graham Rahal: The son of 1986 Indy 500 winner Bobby Rahal became the youngest winner (at 19) of a series race in April 2008, at St. Petersburg, Fla. He started 13th in last year's Indy 500 but hit the wall on lap 37 and finished last.

This year, Rahal, who drives for Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing, has been fast at Indy all May and qualified fourth.

Will Power: The third driver for Team Penske was hired just before the season because of Castroneves' tax-evasion trial and, after Castroneves was acquitted, Power stayed with the car for the Indy 500.

(The Miami jury that acquitted Castroneves failed to agree on one last conspiracy charge, resulting in a mistrial on that count. Federal prosecutors said Friday they dropped that charge.)

Power, 29, qualified ninth and also was second-quickest in Friday's practice.

But Power's strength has been curvy road courses; whether he can win a 200-lap race on Indy's 2.5-mile rectangular layout is debatable.

Paul Tracy: The veteran racer starts 13th for the team KV Racing Technology and hopes to erase the memory of his 2002 finish here.

One lap from the end, Tracy passed Castroneves for the lead, but a crash elsewhere on the track brought out the caution that froze the field. Race officials ruled Tracy hadn't completed the pass before the caution, declaring Castroneves the winner and Tracy second.

Sarah Fisher: The Ohio native, who owns her own team, will start 21st in her eighth start in the 500. Her best finish was 18th in 2007.

Townsend Bell: The San Luis Obispo driver makes his third Indy 500 start in another KV Racing car. He finished a career-best 10th last year.

John Andretti: Making his 10th career start in an Indy 500, Andretti is driving a car entered by seven-time NASCAR champion Richard Petty that carries the No. 43 and the red and blue colors of Petty's famed stock car. Andretti's best finish at Indy was fifth in 1991.

10:28 AM

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Danica Patrick hopes new colors are winning combination

Source: Detroit News

Indianapolis -- Danica Patrick took one quick glance at her nifty, new orange-and-black car Friday and thought back to 2007.

It was that year her ex-teammate, Dario Franchitti, won the Indianapolis 500 in a car bearing the same colors.

No, Patrick doesn't expect a different paint job to give her that coveted Indy win later this month, but she figures it can't hurt, either.

"I think the colors are really sporty and very cool," she said. "It sort of reflects how I am, edgy and fun."

Patrick looked like a different person during the extravagant ceremony held at Indianapolis International airport.

Her familiar intense stare was replaced by smiles and jokes. She seemed to savor the moment crew members pushed her No. 7 car out of a trailer through smoke and onto a temporary checkered floor. Gone was the traditional light blue-and-black scheme, and the sidepod that carried the banner for Boost Mobile, an unlimited cell phone service that is being promoted by Motorola, her primary sponsor the past several years.

But the first woman to win an IndyCar race certainly does not need an overhaul to be competitive.

After winning in Japan last year, she opened this season with finishes of 15th at St. Petersburg, fourth at Long Beach and fifth last weekend at Kansas. She ranks sixth in the points standings heading into the biggest race of the IndyCar season, May 24.

And Indianapolis has always been one of her best tracks.

She burst onto the scene here as a rookie in 2005, becoming the first woman to lead a lap at the historic 2.5-mile oval before finishing fourth. The 27-year-old from Roscoe, Ill., has never qualified worse than 10th at Indy and has three top-10 finishes in four career starts.

This year, she wants more.

"I wouldn't drive for a team unless I thought they were capable of winning," she said. "We do everything to make sure this is the race we win this season, and I see no reason that we can't keep this up."

One reason is that Patrick is more relaxed.

She waved to the television cameras before racing a Boeing 717 plane, then returned to do a burnout right in front of the cameras after beating the plane. Afterward, she apologized for getting people wet from the wet concrete in front of the airplane hangar.

Still, Patrick is likely to be dogged by one consistent question all month: Will she continue driving for Andretti Green Racing next season.

Patrick's three-year deal with AGR expires after this season, fueling speculation that the series could lose its most marketable personality to either NASCAR or Formula One.

If team co-owner Michael Andretti has his way, it won't happen.

Andretti said Friday that he and Patrick have discussed an extension, though no deal is in place.

And Andretti would like to get it completed quickly.

"Yeah, yesterday," he said, when asked if there was a time frame. "Unfortunately, it doesn't work that way. I've talked with her directly and she has expressed that she really wants to be here and we want her to be here."

Patrick did not discuss the negotiations Friday.

Instead, she is intent on achieving the biggest win of her career.

"I'm really comfortable and feeling good about the other drivers on our team," she said. "There's a level of comfort and a level of friendship, and I think we've got that this year. I've been having a lot of fun this year. I just keep thinking Dario won a couple of years ago in orange-and-black."

3:31 PM

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2009 IRL Schedule & Results


Check out the 2009's IRL Schedule and Results by clicking the link below:


3:25 PM

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Danica Patrick crashes out of season-opener

Source: Yahoo Sports

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP)—Danica Patrick’s season got off to a tough start after she crashed out early in the season-opening Honda Grand Prix.

She was running ninth in the 22-car field on Sunday when rookie Raphael Matos tried to pass as the two went into one of the tightest turns on the 1.8-mile, 14-turn temporary street circuit.

Both cars crashed, with Patrick’s Andretti Green Racing entry slamming hard, rear end first into a tire barrier.

As the uninjured drivers walked away, Patrick patted Matos on the helmet as if to say, “Use your head.” The two then waited for a ride back to the pits, with a lively discussion taking place as Matos sat on a wall and Patrick stood in front of him.

Patrick, who has been known to blow up at other drivers in similar circumstances, was calm after she got back to the team’s pit.

“It’s not exactly the ideal spot to pass,” she said. “We were going into the fast chicane there and there’s no room, there’s no room for two people. … I was looking in my mirrors and I saw him. He just wasn’t all the way up next to me.”

Matos, making his IndyCar debut with the Luczo Dragon team, wasn’t ready to take the blame.

“We just had a very unfortunate racing accident,” the Brazilian said. “It shouldn’t have happened. Danica made a big mistake passing a lapped car and I really had a good run on her. I was halfway up on her. I thought she’d give me enough room to pass, but she didn’t.”

Patrick, the only woman in the field, ended her day in 19th and Matos was 20th. Each completed just 31 of 100 laps.