"Everything has come together better than I could have imagined to close out my racing career at the Indy 500", said Patrick.
She needs to pass Indianapolis Motor Speedway's two-phase refresher course to be eligible to qualify for this month's Indianapolis 500, which is expected to be the final race of her career. It was, and then some.
The 36-year-old Patrick was back on track in an Indy auto for the first time since October 16, 2011 and unlike the previous vehicle that she thought was easy to drive, she found the current Indy auto Dallara a real handful. That took about one hour to resolve.
Danica Patrick has officially made her return to the Verizon IndyCar Series after getting back behind the wheel at Indianapolis Motor Speedway yesterday.
"I just kind of wanted to get today over with", she said. I think that's very important here at Indy, is to not drive beyond what you feel is possible with the auto because it will bite you. I wanted to get through today and get more comfortable and be able to get on with the job.
Danica Patrick had hoped that getting back into an IndyCar for the first time in almost seven years would feel like "riding a bike". The Indy 500 will be Sunday, May 27th.
Patrick was the 2005 Indy 500 rookie of the year and is one of 14 drivers to lead the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500.
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"The vehicle, it just felt very hard to drive".
After completing the first phase of the program, Wickens' No. 6 auto suffered a gear box problem, and he had to borrow teammate James Hinchcliffe's No. 5 machine to finish checking off the required boxes. Once I thought of it, I was, like, 'Yes, yes, that's what I'm going to do.' So, it's been since fall of past year thinking about, What the hell is it going to feel like?
"I don't know what I've gotten myself into to be honest", Wickens said. I was really able to feel the front sliding pretty well. "It's been seven years since I drove an Indy Car here so yea it's been a long time". Yeah, I mean, I love it around here. I hope there's some understanding for the words that I'm using. "I want to get through that so I can get to the fun part, which is really running, making changes, making it faster, feeling really comfortable". So I don't know what the heck I've been doing because I feel a lot stronger than when I was here before.
Patrick praised ECR and team owner Carpenter for helping her in this re-acclimation process. So far, it's been "really cool". She turned one lap during a refresher course on the 2.5-mile oval before pulling back onto pit road. It's all still a bit overwhelming, but Patrick has always been confident and assured she would figure it out. "But I did not feel very strong out there", she joked. Your gut is usually right. Your feet and your butt are right. I did do a couple other little things. She's definitely got her work cut out for her before Memorial Day Weekend, but she's also not anxious. I really did believe that I was never going to do it again. But this is just a test.
She has nearly four weeks to get back up to speed here.
Patrick wasn't the only driver taking refresher laps. The 102nd running of "The Greatest Spectacle in Racing" airs at 11 a.m. ET on ABC and the Advance Auto Parts INDYCAR Radio Network. Practice for the Indianapolis 500 begins May 15, with qualifying to set the 33-car field on May 19-20.