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Patrick progressing at own rate

7/9/2005

Teammates Buddy Rice and Danica Patrick agree that no one should
get impatient waiting for Patrick to win her first IndyCar Series
race -- least of all Patrick herself.

After the 23-year-old rookie became the first woman to lead the
Indianapolis 500 and wound up fourth, the best showing by a female
driver at the Brickyard, Danicamania was in full bloom.

Things have settled a bit since, with Patrick looking like a
first-year driver trying to find her way around new tracks. Since
Indy on May 29, she has finished 13th at Texas and 10th last
Saturday night in Richmond, two of the more difficult tracks on the
schedule.

That has led some reporters to suggest her Indy run was a fluke.

"Danica's time will come," said Rice, who gave the Rahal
Letterman Racing team a victory in the 2004 Indy 500 and has been
acting as a mentor to Patrick this year. "She's only ran five or
six rounds, early in her career. There's other guys that have run a
whole career and haven't won any. We'll have to wait and see."

Patrick, whose next start is Sunday at Kansas Speedway, said
Vitor Meira, her other teammate and the Indy runner-up, is probably
more due for a win than she is.

"He's always running up front," she said of Meira. "He's a
good, hard racer. In all good time, things will come. I'm sure he
will win a race at some point.

"As far as I go, yeah, he's probably more due than I am. He's
been in it longer. You go back and look at how long it took a lot
of guys to win races, and it was two seasons. It's just all about
patience and being smart."

But, after the last two races, is she getting impatient for
better results?

"I'm learning at the only rate I know how, and that's mine,"
Patrick said. "I don't feel like I have to get on it any faster. I
don't feel like I have to win any sooner.

"I was talking to someone before, and it's not a matter of I
think people expecting and me having to win this year; it's
everybody just hoping, you know. It would just make such a great
story and it would just follow along with the amount of interest
and hype that the year has had. But yet, at the same time, I think
people are remembering the fact that I haven't been doing it that
long. Like I was saying earlier, it takes a lot of people a long
time to win a race."