Page 3 Profile: Danica Patrick, US racing driver


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The Independent Online

Fastest woman on four wheels?

She is the fastest racer full stop. Danica Patrick has become the first woman to secure pole position at next Sunday's Daytona 500 in Florida, the most prestigious race in the stock car calendar. Patrick, 34, completed her flying lap at 196.434mph. She will start in her No 10 Chevrolet alongside four-time Nascar Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who also smashed the 196mph barrier. "I can say I was the fastest guy today," he joked. "It's great to be part of history. I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport. Congratulations to her. Proud to be on there with her."

I take it women driver jokes aren't welcome?

"I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl," Patrick said. "I've been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really hope I don't stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make." Patrick frequently rewrites the record book. Before switching to Nascar, she raced in the IndyCar series. She was voted rookie of the year in 2005, and came third in the Indy500 in 2009.

I take it that it isn't just history she's making?

She has been criticised for rarely turning down a marketing opportunity. She has been in a Jay-Z music video, appeared in The Simpsons and modelled in a bikini on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Any chance of a switch to Formula One?

She's friends with driver Jensen Button, but Patrick claimed that the people involved in stock cars and Indy cars are generally nicer. It was rumoured that Sir Richard Branson wanted her to join his Virgin Racing team, but she declined.

What about a trip to Britain for her UK fans?

Patrick moved to the UK at the age of 16 to improve her driving technique, but she hated it. "I enjoyed the first year but every year after that got more depressing. The weather really got to me," she said. Patrick also felt that racing bosses over here were more sexist. "I remember one of the team owners I drove for. I was the quickest one day in practice, and to the guys he was like, 'She's the quickest, come on!' as if it wasn't OK to be slower than me."