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IndyCar history: Fourth of July races

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Several times in its history, the Verizon IndyCar Series has hosted an event near the Fourth of July. Yet, only a few times has a race actually been held on that day.

The last time a race was held on July 4 was in 2010, with Will Power taking victory at Watkins Glen, the last time IndyCar visited the famed New York road course until its return last year.

Only six years prior, Buddy Rice accomplished a similar feat in 2004, winning at Kansas Speedway on July 4.

KANSAS CITY, KS – JULY 4: Buddy Rice, driving the #15 Rahal Letterman Racing Argent/Pioneer Honda GForce, crosses the line side by side with his second placed teammate Vitor Meira in the #17 Centrix Honda GForce to win the Indy Racing League IndyCar Series Argent Mortgage Indy 300 on July 4, 2004 at the Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kansas. (Photo by Gavin Lawrence/Getty Images)

However, those have been the only two races held on July 4 in the 21st century. Previously, the last time an IndyCar event took place on July 4 was in 1982, with Bobby Rahal winning at Cleveland’s Burke Lakefront Airport.

Of note: twice since 2000 has a race been held on July 3, with Sebastien Bourdais winning at Cleveland in 2004 (run under the Champ Car World Series banner) and Tony Kanaan winning at Kansas in 2005.

Similarly, two races have been held on July 5 since 2000. The aforementioned Bourdais won at Cleveland on that date in 2003 (then under CART sanctioning), and in 2009, the late Justin Wilson gave Dale Coyne Racing its maiden IndyCar win at Watkins Glen.

WATKINS GLEN, NY – JULY 05: Justin Wilson driver of the #18 Z-Line Design Dale Coyne Racing Dallara Honda celebrates with his team after their first ever victory at the IRL IndyCar Series Camping World Grand Prix at The Glen on July 5, 2009 at the Watkins Glen International in Watkins Glen, New York. (Photo by Darrell Ingham/Getty Images)

The most recent event the Verizon IndyCar Series has held on the weekend of July 4 came in 2014, when Juan Pablo Montoya scored a victory at Pocono Raceway on July 6.

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Reviewing Danica Patrick’s highs and lows at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

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So much of Danica Patrick’s fame can be traced to Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

It’s where she became a household name 13 years ago when she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and emerged as a transcendent athlete.

It’s where everything started. This Sunday, it’s where everything will end, too.

In her last warmup before starting the final race of her career, Patrick had a bumpy final practice Friday on Carb Day. She was eighth fastest, but her Dallara-Chevrolet was in the garage most of the session because of an electrical problem in the engine. After returning during the final 10 minutes of the session, Patrick’s No. 13 seemed to be OK.

“At the end of the day, these are things you’re actually glad for, because if this had happened Sunday, we would have been done,” she said. “I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on. Overall, today felt good. We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”
Though she has had her share of success – along with a fourth in her debut, there was a third in 2009 and six top 10s in seven starts — Patrick has learned well how to handle frustration at the 2.5-mile track, too.

Fuel mileage might have kept her from winning her debut, a pit collision ruined 2008, and an unstable setup made 2010 a wild ride.

For a review of her up-and-down history at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, and her legacy in racing, watch the video essay above that ran during Friday’s NASCAR America Motorsports Special on NBCSN.