DANICA PATRICK HOPING TO MAKE HISTORY SUNDAY AT MIS BROOKLYN, Mich. -- If history is any indication, Michigan International Speedway might just be the perfect place for IRL IndyCarÂ® Series rookie Danica Patrick to capture her first career ...
DANICA PATRICK HOPING TO MAKE HISTORY SUNDAY AT MIS
BROOKLYN, Mich. -- If history is any indication, Michigan International Speedway might just be the perfect place for IRL IndyCar® Series rookie Danica Patrick to capture her first career victory.
An astounding 12 drivers have captured their first major open-wheel victory at MIS in just 62 total races, including legends such as Indianapolis 500 winners Tom Sneva and Emerson Fittipaldi, along with current IndyCar Series drivers Tony Kanaan and Patrick Carpentier.
Since the inception of the IRL IndyCar Series in 1996, only three drivers have captured wins during their rookie season, including Buzz Calkins (1996) and Jim Guthrie (1997). Tomas Scheckter brought home a victory most recently during his rookie season in 2002, at none other than Michigan International Speedway.
Many have pointed to the Firestone Indy 400 at MIS as Patrick's best chance to win in her rookie season since her fourth place finish in the Indianapolis 500. So, could Sunday be her day?
"Do I think I have a good chance of doing well? Of course I do," Patrick said Tuesday. "I keep my fingers crossed. I definitely have a good feeling. I think it could be (my time). At the end of the day, though, every one of these weekends has been a little success in itself, just improving one area at a time."
While Patrick has never raced at MIS, there are many reasons why the track lends itself to first time winners. One of the longest races of the year, along with its wide racing surface where cars can run two and three wide, is where the Honda horsepower of Rahal Letterman Racing will most likely shine.
"I think it's probably easier than other tracks because it's large," she said. "You can run two cars wide for sure. I'm sure that helps. We run strongest on the big ovals. We hope to be successful at MIS."
While the native of Roscoe, Illinois has garnered considerable attention since her historic run in the Indianapolis 500, she feels she doesn't necessarily have to win right away, but knows her desire to win and her experience may pay off at MIS on Sunday during the 11th race of the IndyCar Series season.
"I think we've done well in all areas earlier this season, whether it's race condition, qualifying or pit stops," Patrick said. "We improved again in Milwaukee and over the last couple of weekends. They just need to come together at the same time. I think we have a very good chance as the year progresses (to win) as our experience levels go up."
Things are coming together a little more each week for Patrick. She feels that her time to win gets closer each week, but doesn't feel any more pressure to win as the races have gone by.
"It takes a lot longer than eight or 10 races to win a race for the first time," added Patrick. I think that as much as I go into each weekend thinking I really want to win, there's never a have. I think it will come when it comes."
If history repeats itself, "when it comes" may be this weekend at MIS.
Tickets are still available for Sunday's Firestone Indy 400 IRL IndyCar Series race at MIS. Tickets can be purchased by calling the MIS ticket hotline at 1-800-354-1010 or by logging on to www.MISpeedway.com.
First at MIS
Drivers who have captured their first major open-wheel victory at Michigan International Speedway
1968 Ronnie Bucknum, Inaugural Race
1970 Gary Bettenhausen, Michigan Twin 200
1973 Bill Vukovich, Michigan 150
1975 Tom Sneva, Michigan Grand Prix 150
1978 Danny Ongais, Gould Grand Prix 150
1981 Pancho Carter, Michigan 500
1985 Emerson Fittipaldi, Michigan 500
1992 Scott Goodyear, Michigan 500
1995 Scott Pruett, Marlboro 500
1999 Tony Kanaan, U.S. 500
2001 Patrick Carpentier, Harrah's 500
2002 Tomas Scheckter, Michigan Indy 400