Danica Patrick scored her best finish with 4th in just her 3rd Barber Pro Series race. VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA (July 28, 2002) --Danica Patrick, who opened up many eyes of open-wheel observers in England two years ago, is starting to do the same...
Danica Patrick scored her best finish with 4th in just her 3rd Barber Pro Series race.
VANCOUVER, B.C., CANADA (July 28, 2002) --Danica Patrick, who opened up many eyes of open-wheel observers in England two years ago, is starting to do the same here North America after scoring a fourth place finish Sunday in the Barber Dodge Pro Series race, a preliminary event for the Molson Indy Vancouver.
Patrick, in only her third race of the 2002 campaign, came from a ninth starting spot and avoided a major incident on the first and second laps to close in on the leaders at the end of the 18-lap race on the 1.78-mile temporary road course.. Patrick slid to the inside in turn one at the drop of the green flag and the 20-year-old racer from Roscoe, Ill., advanced her position to fifth when the yellow flag appeared on the first lap.
Driving her first race with Shell sponsorship on her bright red No. 89 Reynard Dodge-powered formula car, Patrick moved to fifth on the second lap and again made a nice maneuver to slide to the fourth position. The red flag appeared on the third lap when six more cars were involved in a turn three mishap.
Danica's fourth place finish is now coupled with her two seventh place finishes at Toronto and Cleveland earlier this month to jump towards the Top 10 in points.
"It looked like 'Days of Thunder' at the start of the race," said Patrick, who signed with Team Rahal last month to a three-year contract to participate in the CART Ladder System for development drivers. "All I saw was blue smoke and cars were sliding everywhere. I just stayed to the inside and looked to make the next corner. The car felt good and I was able to move up with the leaders. I tried to make a couple of moves for third on Dan DiLeo but he was driving well and protecting his position. I actually think I was faster than Dan but it's tough getting by with these cars. Everything is very close and I couldn't get a run on Dan for third. I think fourth was pretty solid for us right now in my third race in the series. But I really wanted to get on the podium (Top Three)."
Patrick's boss, Bobby Rahal, was pleased with Danica's performance especially on the tight street circuit -- just her second street event.
"I think Danica used her head very well today," said Rahal, the three-time CART champion. "She was able to avoid two different incidents and then pressure the guys in front of her. She ran some very consistent laps and proved she can run with the leaders. Remember that she is racing with drivers that have one or two years of experience in these cars. This was Danica's third race in these cars. We'll hope to work harder on her experience of setting up a car. That will make her faster too."
Patrick also will be gaining experience in the Toyota Atlantic car in the coming week with test days at Mid-Ohio and Black Hawk Farms in Illinois.
"I'm excited for the tests since I can get more track time," said Patrick, the former national karting champion. "I am a half of a year behind the other drivers this year. So I want to get as much time in a race car as possible."
Patrick has two more Barber Dodge Pro Series races this year with events at Mid-Ohio and Montreal.