Patrick progressing at own rate

Originally Published: June 30, 2005
Associated Press

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."

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press