Getty Images

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

7 Comments

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.”

Bob Fernley announced as president of McLaren IndyCar

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Bob Fernley will bring his experience as former deputy team principal at Force India F1 to McLaren Racing’s IndyCar effort in 2019.

Fernley will report directly to McLaren Racing’s CEO Zak Brown.

“Heading back to the Brickyard will be a very special experience for me,” Fernley said at IndyCar.com. “I am proud to be leading this McLaren project and team. The 500 is a hell of a challenge and we have incredibly strong competitors to overcome if we’re to be successful. We will need to prepare well for the month of May and that work starts now.”

Fernley’s appointing come of the heels of last week’s announcement that McLaren will create a brand new team to compete in the 2019 Indy 500.

MORE: Fernando Alonso to return to Indy 500 in 2019

For now, Fernley’s responsibility is to create an entry that is capable of allowing two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso to win the Indy 500 in just his second start. But speculation has been widespread that the entry will be a jumping off point for a much broader involvement in IndyCar.

In 2017, Alonso qualified on the middle of row two (fifth), led 27 laps and succumbed to mechanical failure. His effort was impressive enough to be name Rookie of the Year for the Indy 500.

“Bob is a fantastic operator and someone I respect greatly,” Brown said. “His experience and leadership will be essential for us on this project. He is particularly talented at putting effective teams together and extracting maximum performance with finite resources. The Indy 500 is no easy race and Bob’s is a key role, so I’m delighted he’s on board.”