Danica Patrick is an American female racing driver who currently competes in the NASCAR Cup Series, driving the #10 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing. Patrick debuted in NASCAR Cup Series in 2012. She scored no wins since then and her most notable result was the pole position at 2013 Daytona 500. That puts her among the most successful female drivers in NASCAR's history.
Before entering NASCAR, Patrick spent seven seasons in the IndyCar Series, from 2005 to 2011, becoming the most successful female driver in a history of the American open-wheel racing. Her triumph in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 race at Twin Ring Motegi is the only women's victory in the series. Besides that win, Patrick scored six more podiums and three pole positions in the IndyCar Series. At Indianapolis 500, her best result was the third place in 2009.
Danica's father was also a racer
Danica Patrick was born on March 25, 1982, in Beloit, Wisconsin. Her father Terry Jose Patrick Jr. raced snowmobiles, motocross, and midget cars, so the young Danica also showed some interest in motorsport. He started a racing career with go-karts at the age 10, competing at the Sugar River Raceway in Brodhead, Wisconsin.
In 1997, Danica was a guest of former female racing driver Lyn St. James at the 1997 Indianapolis 500 and was introduced to John Mecom Jr., a former Indy Car team owner. He arranged for Danica to go to England to advance her racing career.
Four years of racing in England
At the age of 16, Patrick moved to Milton Keynes, England, entering the Formula Vauxhall Series. In 2000, she switched to the Formula Ford, participating both in the British and European Championship. The highlight of the season was the second place at the annual Formula Ford Festival, behind her teammate Anthony Davidson.
Returning to America and joining Team Rahal
In 2002, Patrick returned to the US, joining Team Rahal in the Barber Dodge Pro Series. Next year, she moved to the Toyota Atlantic Championship. With two podiums, she finished sixth in the points. The even better result followed in the 2004 Toyota Atlantic Championship when Danica reached three podiums and finished third in the final standings, behind Jon Fogarty and Ryan Dalziel.
While racing for Team Rahal, Danica had a one-off appearance in the American Le Mans Series, driving a Ferrari 550 GTS Maranello at Grand Prix of Atlanta. Her partner in the #80 Veloqx Prodrive' car was Jerome Policand, they finished fourth in GTS class.
IndyCar Series debut in 2005
After spending three seasons with Rahal's team in ladder series, Danica was ready for the IndyCar Series debut in 2005. She was driving the #16 Panoz-Honda, becoming the biggest story of the season.
Patrick scored pole positions three times during a season, finishing best in the fourth place two times, including her debut at Indianapolis 500. He scored poles at Kansas Speedway, Kentucky Speedway and Chicagoland Speedway, tying a record for a number of pole positons earned in a rookie season.
Rookie of the Year and the best woman at Indianapolis 500
Danica finished 12th in the overall standings and took the Rookie of the Year honors. In May, she became the fourth woman in a history to compete at Indianapolis 500, following Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher. In her first attempt, she immediately scored the best result of all, starting from the fourth place and finishing fourth. During the race, she became the first female driver to lead the race at Indianapolis 500, leading 19 laps overall.
Daytona 24 hours debut in 2006
Before starting another IndyCar season with Rahal Letterman Racing, Patrick debuted at Rolex 24 at Daytona in January 2006, along with Rusty Wallace, Allan McNish and Jan Lammers in the #2 Crawford-Pontiac prototype for Howard-Boss Motorsports. They didn't finish the race.
Patrick withdrew from the season-opening IndyCar race at Homestead-Miami after her teammate Paul Dana was killed in a crash during practice. She was driving the #16 car in 13 races, with 4th place as the best result at Nashville and Milwaukee, finishing 9th in the final standings. At 2006 Indianapolis 500, she started eighth and finished eighth.
Three podiums with Andretti Green Racing in 2007
For the 2007 IndyCar Series season, Patrick joined Andretti Green Racing to drive a full season in the #7 Dallara-Honda. In the 91st running of the Indianapolis 500, she repeated a result from the previous year, starting 8th and finishing 8th. In the seventh round of the season, Patrick scored her maiden IndyCar podium, finishing third at Texas Motor Speedway. The next podium followed soon, at Nashville Speedway, where she finished third again.
And then, in the penultimate round at Detroit Belle Isle circuit, Patrick missed a win for half a second, finishing in the second place behind teammate Tony Kanaan. With that second-place finish, Patrick tied Sarah Fisher's best result for a female driver in IndyCar. At the end of the season, Patrick was 7th in the points.
Danica Patrick scored the first ever woman's IndyCar victory
In 2008, Patrick stayed in the #7 Dallara-Honda. After two season-opening Top 10 results, 6th at Homestead and 10th at St.Petersburg, the sensation followed at Japanese Twin Ring Motegi. Patrick started 6th in the Indy Japan 300 race and stayed in front for much of the race. Pole-sitter Helio Castroneves led for 94 laps, with Scott Dixon leading for 101 laps. In the final laps, they were forced to pit for fuel and Patrick took the lead, crossing the finish line 5.8594 seconds ahead of Castroneves.
Later in the season, Patrick retired at Indianapolis 500 and scored seven more Top 10 results, finishing 6th in the final standings, what was her career-best result to date. It's interesting that she was the best of all American drivers.
Podium at 2009 Indianapolis 500
In January 2009, Patrick returned to Daytona 24 Hours, again driving the Crawford-Pontiac prototype for Childres-Howard Motorsports. This time, her co-drivers were Casey Mears, Andy Wallace and Rob Finlay. They finished 8th.
In the 2009 IndyCar Series season, Patrick scored only one podium, but the most valuable of all. She finished third at Indianapolis 500, behind Team Penske's Helio Castroneves and Panther Racing's Dan Wheldon. With that result, Danica improved the best ever result for a female driver at Indianapolis 500. She also improved career-best result in the season's standings, finishing in the 5th place at the end of the year. She was again the best among all American drivers.
NASCAR debut for Danica in 2010
In 2010, Danica Patrick had a double schedule, driving full-time for Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series and a limited schedule for JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. GoDaddy.com sponsored her in both series.
At Indianapolis 500, Patrick had a disappointing qualifying result, starting 23rd on the grid, but she finished sixth. Later in the season, she was in the second place two times, at Texas and Homestead. She finished 10th in the points.
In NASCAR Nationwide Series, her best result with #7 Chevrolet was 21st place at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Last IndyCar Series season in 2011
In 2011, Patrick had a similar schedule as the year before, full-time with Andretti Autosport and part-time with JR Motorsports. At Indianapolis 500, she started 25th and finished 10th. Later in the season, her best result was 5th place at Milwaukee Mile and she finished 10th in the points. At season's finale at Las Vegas, Patrick was one of just 19 cars that escaped the 15-car-wreck in which Dan Wheldon lost his life.
In the 2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series, she improved her results and scored three Top 10 finishes, with 4th place at Las Vegas as the best performance.
Full season in the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series
Danica Patrick left open-wheel racing at the end of 2011 and focused on stock car racing since then. She spent the full season in the 2012 NASCAR Nationwide Series driving the #7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports. After scoring four Top 10 results, she was 10th in the final standings.
In 2012, Patrick also made a Sprint Cup debut with Tommy Baldwin Racing, participating in ten races with #10 Chevrolet, including Daytona 500.
Sensational pole position for Patrick at 2013 Daytona 500
For the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Patrick signed as a full-time driver of Stewart-Haas Racing's #10 Chevrolet, sponsored by GoDaddy. She had a dreamy start of the season, taking a pole position at Daytona 500. It was one more Danica's historic achievement, as he became the first female driver ever to score a pole position in the Cup Series race.
In the race, she also became the first female driver to lead a green flag lap at Daytona 500, taking the lead on lap 90 temporarily from Matt Kenseth, and later leading a few laps during green flag pit stops on lap 127. Finishing in the 8th place, she became the highest placing female driver in the race's history.
Later in the season, Patrick didn't manage to finish among top 10 drivers, with 12th place at Martinsville as the best result. In the season's standings, she finished in the 27th place.
Three Top 10 results in the 2014 NASCAR season
Patrick started the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season from the back of the grid at Daytona 500, because both she and teammate Tony Stewart changed engines. She crashed out on lap 145, being classified as 40th.
She waited until Kansas Speedway's race in May to score her first Top 10 result in 2014. She finished seventh. Later in the season, he added two more Top 10 results: 8th at Daytona's Coke Zero 400 and 6th at Atlanta's Oral-B USA 500. At the end of the year, she was 28th in the points. The sixth place at Atlanta is still her career-best result in the NASCAR Cup Series.
Surpassing Janet Guthrie with six top 10 results
In 2015, Patrick made an improvement in the overall standings, finishing the season in the 24th place. At season-opening Daytona 500, she started 20th and finished 21st. In the sixth round, at Martinsville Speedway, she gained a season-best result, finishing in the 7th place.
Two rounds later, at Bristol, she finished 9th and wrote her name one more time to NASCAR's historic books. It was her sixth top 10 result, so she surpassed Janet Guthrie for the most top 10s by a female driver in a Sprint Cup Series history. In July, at Kentucky Speedway, Patrick made her 100th Cup Series start, becoming the first woman to do that.
Staying out of top ten in 2016
In 2016, Patrick extended a contract with Stewart-Haas Racing but without GoDaddy as a sponsor. Nature's Bakery came as a new sponsor of Patrick's #10 Chevrolet. Danica finished 24th in the points although he didn't score top 10 results. Her best result was 11th place at Charlotte's Bank of America 500.
At Talladega's GEICO 500, Patrick had a crash which she described as "the worst of her career". Luckily, she escaped injuries.
Switching to Ford in 2017
In the renamed 2017 Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series, Patrick stayed with Stewart-Haas Racing for the fifth season in a row. The team switched from Chevrolet to Ford. Nature's Bakery terminated its sponsorship, causing a lawsuit. Aspen Dental becomes a new sponsor. She ended a season 28th in the points, with just one top 10 finish over the season.
Danica published autobiography in 2006
As one of the world's most popular female racers, Danica Patrick is very influential in media, having numerous appearances in commercials, TV shows, music videos, comics or video games. In May 2006, she published an autobiography „Danica: Crossing the Line“. In December 2016, she announced plans to release a second book „Pretty Intense“ in January 2018.