February 13, 2018 / 1:11 AM / 7 months ago

Motor racing: Patrick says Indy 500 deal is set-report

(Reuters) - Danica Patrick said her plans to run the Indianapolis 500 in what is scheduled to be the final race of her career are set, according to a report on IndyCar’s website on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Feb 11, 2018; Daytona, FL, USA; NASCAR Cup Series driver Danica Patrick (7) during qualifying for the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Mike DiNovo-USA TODAY Sports

While Patrick, who said last November she would retire after the May 27 race, said her entry was confirmed, an announcement of which team she would race for was not imminent.

“No, I just needed to make sure it (the deal) was done,” Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race, said. “The rest I don’t really care about.”

In 2005, Patrick started and finished fourth as an Indy 500 rookie – at the time a record for a woman driver. She finished third in 2009 but has not competed in the event since 2011.

One of the most marketable athletes in North America, Patrick has seen her popularity wane in recent years, unable to produce the type of results many had expected when she made her much publicized jump for IndyCar to NASCAR in 2012.

She will drive in Sunday’s Daytona 500 where, after failing to land with a top-tier team in her penultimate race, will pilot to No. 7 GoDaddy Chevrolet for Premium Motorsports.

With a deal now in place for the Indy 500, Patrick made it clear which of her final two races, which is being dubbed the “Danica Double” she would prefer to win.

“Yeah, it would be Indy,” Patrick told IndyCar. “There’s nothing against Daytona, but just from being a young little girl, I had always wanted to win the Indy 500. It’s not to say that Daytona is not an enormous deal.

“But I have to go with what feels like the most important in my heart and I came from open-wheel racing, I wanted to win the Indy 500 from being a go-kart driver when I was a kid and came close a few times.

“It’s kind of what started it all for me, so there’s just a lot more history there.”

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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