April 20 in Motorsports History: Danica’s groundbreaking victory


“Boys, move over.”

That was broadcaster Marty Reid’s famous call when Danica Patrick crossed the finish line on April 20, 2008.

For the first time in history, a woman had won at the top level of American open-wheel racing, coming in a brilliant fuel run at Japan’s Twin Ring Motegi.

Patrick started the race from the sixth position, and while she didn’t have the fastest car, she had the right strategy.

Danica Patrick waves to the crowd after winning the 2008 Indy Japan 300 at Twin Ring Motegi. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

With roughly 50 laps remaining in the 200-lap event, Patrick began to slow her pace and conserve fuel, dropping to as low as ninth.

That move paid off. As the laps began to dwindle, the cars ahead of her began to drop off, either for having to conserve fuel or come in to pit.

Scott Dixon, who had led the majority of the race, came in to pit with five laps remaining. Then Dan Wheldon came in. Then Tony Kanaan and Ed Carpenter.

Helio Castroneves inherited the lead with four laps remaining, as Patrick rapidly made her charge in second place. On the next lap, Patrick passed Castroneves for the lead on the backstretch and went on to win by 5.859 seconds over the Brazilian.

“This is a long time coming,” Patrick told ESPN following the race “Finally.”

While she wouldn’t win again in IndyCar, Patrick raced the series until 2011. In 2009, she finished third in the Indy 500, the best finish for a woman in the race to date.

After racing in NASCAR full time from 2012-17, Patrick announced she would retire from racing. She made her final NASCAR and IndyCar starts in the 2018 Daytona 500 and Indy 500, respectfully.

Champ Car’s final farewell

Will Power leads the field at the start of the 2008 Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

As word of Patrick’s victory spread across the world, another historic race was taking place in the United States. Champ Car, which was established in 1979 as CART, was running its final race on the streets of Long Beach.

Will Power his victory in the final Champ Car race held at the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach. (Photo by Paul Mounce/Corbis via Getty Images)

With the inaugural season of the Indy Racing Leauge in 1996, CART and the IRL competed as rival series for the next 12 years. In February 2008, both series reunified under one umbrella, causing several of Champ Car’s races either to be canceled or added to the IndyCar calendar.

With neither Long Beach or Motegi able to change their firmly locked dates, series officials made the decision to run both races as planned. IRL teams would travel to Motegi, and the Grand Prix of Long Beach would serve as an unofficial farewell race for Champ Car.

While points accrued in the race counted toward the IndyCar Series championship, all teams entered were Champ Car entries utilizing DP01 chassis. Additionally, the race also ran under Champ Car rules, which included a 1 hour, 45-minute time limit and a standing start.

Will Power started the race from the fourth position and got an impressive start, taking the lead from pole-sitter Justin Wilson into Turn 1.

Power would dominate, leading all but two laps en route to his third career victory. The future Indy 500 and IndyCar champion will be remembered as the final winner in Champ Car history.

“We got a ripper start,” Power told ESPN. “I was doing plenty of burnouts before, not off the hairpin though. It was a good start, good strategy, and we ran well. The yellows played well into our hands, so it was a good race.”

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter @michaele1994

IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta: How to watch, start times, schedule, entry list

AUTO: NOV 13 IMSA - Motul Petit Le Mans
David J. Griffin/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Start times, TV schedule: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will conclude the 2022 season this weekend with the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta, which also will mark the end of the line for the DPi class.

The premier Daytona Prototype international category, which started in 2017, will be replaced by the new Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with its LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to Le Mans.

For the third time in four years, an Acura will be crowned the champion in DPi as the No. 10 of Wayne Taylor Racing holds a 19-point edge over the No. 60 of Meyer Shank Racing.

Last year, WTR’s No. 10 entered the season finale with a 19-point lead but lost the title to the No. 31 Cadillac of Action Express.

Full-time WTR drivers Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor (who will be joined by Brendon Hartley in the No. 10 this weekend) have a series-leading four victories this season. The MSR duo of Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves this weekend) won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and have five runner-up finishes this year.

Championship scenarios in the other four categories:

GTD Pro: Points leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet will clinch the title by starting in their No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.

–GTD: There are 140 points separating the top four teams with Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3 leading by 45 points.

–LMP2: John Farano is first in the driver standings by 33 points over Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel. In the team standings, the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports leads by 19 points over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport (Farano’s team).

–LMP3: No. 54 CORE autosport drivers Jon Bennett and Colin Braun lead by 83 points over the No. 74 Riley Motorsports of Gar Robinson.

With the 10-hour race requiring an extra driver, several stars from other racing series have been added. In addition to Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Ryan Hunter-Reay will serve as third drivers in Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Cadillacs.

Jimmie Johnson also will be making his last DPi start in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac with Mike Rockenfeller and Kamui Kobayashi. Petit Le Mans could mark the last start in an IMSA prototype for Johnson, who has said limited inventory likely will keep him out of the GTP category in the Rolex 24 next year.

Here are the start times, starting lineup, schedule and TV info for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta (all times are ET):

Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta start times, schedule, TV info

When: Saturday, 12:10 p.m. ET

Race distance: Ten hours on the 12-turn, 2.54-mile road course

TV: Noon-3 p.m., NBC; 3-10:30 p.m., USA Network. Peacock, the NBC Sports App,and NBCSports.com will have streaming coverage of the event from flag to flag beginning at noon. Leigh Diffey and Dave Burns are the play by play announcers with analysts Calvin Fish, Townsend Bell, James Hinchcliffe and Brian Till. The pit reporters are Kevin Lee, Hannah Newhouse, Dillon Welch and Matt Yocum.

IMSA.com live TV qualifying stream: Friday, 3:35 p.m. ET.

IMSA Radio: All sessions are live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage will begin Saturday at noon (XM 207, Internet/App 992).

Forecast: According to Wunderground.com, it’s expected to be 63 degrees with an 85% chance of rain at the green flag.

Entry list: Click here to see the 48-car field for the IMSA Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta

Daily schedule IMSA Petit Le Mans

Here’s a rundown of the Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta in Braselton, Georgia:

Wednesday, Sept. 28

9:30 a.m.: Mazda MX-5 practice

10:25 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup

12:30 p.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

1:15 p.m.: Mazda MX-5 practcice

2 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup practice

3:30 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

Thursday, Sept. 29

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge practice

9 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup qualifying

9:50 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

11:40 a.m.: Prototype Challenge qualifying

12:10 p.m.: Michelin Challenge practice

1:50 p.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 1

2:55 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

5 p.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 1

6 p.m.: Michelin Challenge qualifying

7:30 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

Friday, Sept. 30

8 a.m.: Prototype Challenge race

9:50 a.m.: Mazda MX-5, Race 2

10:55 a.m.: Porsche Carrera Cup, Race 2

1:10 p.m.: IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race

3:40 p.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship qualifying

Saturday, Oct. 1

9:15 a.m.: IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship practice

12:10 p.m.: Petit Le Mans