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As retirement approaches, is Danica Patrick a Hall of Famer?

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DETROIT (AP) — As Danica Patrick prepares for her farewell at this weekend’s Indianapolis 500, another big event on the auto racing calendar looms this week: The vote for the NASCAR Hall of Fame.

Jeff Gordon is the big name among the nominees for Wednesday’s vote , but as Patrick’s retirement approaches, her own candidacy for an honor like that has become an interesting topic.

Ed Carpenter, this year’s Indy 500 pole winner and Patrick’s team owner for Sunday’s race, was asked if she should receive Hall of Fame consideration.

“I think so, yeah,” he said at an event in Michigan. “She definitely broke down barriers. She’s done a ton of good for the sport of racing, both in IndyCar and in NASCAR. She’s a fierce competitor. I’ve raced against her for a long time, and she’s earned her place just like the rest of us. She’s had her success, she’s taken her lumps, just like the rest of us. But she’s definitely left a very good legacy and has done far more good for racing than a lot of drivers have.”

Carpenter wasn’t asked about any specific Hall of Fame honor for Patrick, whose career has spanned both open-wheel and stock-car racing. She is the only woman to lead laps in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500. She won the pole for the Daytona 500 in 2013 and won an IndyCar race in 2008.

But that was her lone IndyCar win. She never had a top-five finish in NASCAR.

Patrick seemed caught by surprise when asked about possible Hall of Fame honors Tuesday in New York .

“I don’t know, I think that anything I have accomplished as a statistic or something to be honored for, whatever, they are things that if they happen, they are great, but they were not my goal,” she said. “Any record I have I didn’t really know until after; those things either happen or they don’t, all those kinds of things I don’t plan on. I am not really thinking about that, anything like that, though it is quite the honor.”

Patrick finished third in the Indy 500 in 2009, and she led 19 laps in the race as a rookie in 2005. She qualified seventh for this weekend’s race.

“I think she’s the best female there ever was, right? You’ve got to give her credit for what she’s done,” 2016 IndyCar champion Simon Pagenaud said. “Quite frankly, this month, she’s done tremendous. She’s calm, collected, she hasn’t made a mistake with the car. She’s done her job so far. She was the only woman in NASCAR. She’s the only woman to win an IndyCar race. You’ve got to respect that.”

IndyCar teams with NASCAR on IMS road course doubleheader in 2021

IndyCar NASCAR doubleheader 2021
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The NTT IndyCar Series will be sharing Indianapolis Motor Speedway with the NASCAR Cup Series in a race weekend doubleheader for the second consecutive season, but both series will be on the road course in August 2021.

IMS announced Wednesday that IndyCar will hold an Aug. 14, 2021 race on its 14-turn, 2.439-mile road course. It’ll be a day before NASCAR’s premier series runs the same layout for the first time after the Brickyard 400 was contested on the 2.5-mile oval for the first time in 27 years.

This season’s rescheduling of the IndyCar GMR Grand Prix to July 4, 2019 (a day before the Brickyard 400) led to the first NASCAR-IndyCar doubleheader weekend. The Xfinity Series also raced on the IMS road course for the first time July 4 after the IndyCar race ended.

INDYCAR AT IMS THIS WEEKEND: Harvest GP schedule, entry lists

IndyCar will be holding its second race weekend this year at the IMS road course Friday and Saturday with the Harvest GP.

“Our first NASCAR-INDYCAR weekend was a big success last July, with positive feedback from
our loyal fans who watched the races on NBC and from the drivers, teams and participants
involved,” IMS president Douglas Boles said in a statement. “The Xfinity Series’ debut on the IMS road course provided exactly the kind of thrilling action from the green to checkered flags that we anticipated, so we know the teams and drivers of the Cup Series will put on a great show as they turn left and right for the first time at IMS.

“We can’t wait to welcome back fans to see NASCAR and INDYCAR together during this
exciting weekend as we add another memorable chapter in the long, storied history of the
Indianapolis Motor Speedway.”

It also will mark the first NASCAR Cup-IndyCar doubleheader with a crowd as fans weren’t permitted at IMS in July because of the novel coronvavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Over the course of Wednesday, NASCAR is releasing its 36-race slate for next season. IndyCar has yet to release its full 2021 schedule.