By Steve Keating
INDIANAPOLIS (Reuters) – Danica Patrick’s racing career came to a crashing end on Sunday when her car slammed nose first into a wall before the midway point of Indianapolis 500.
Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500, lost control on lap 68 of the 200-lap race, hitting the wall coming out of corner two then spinning across the track before coming to rest.
The 36-year-old American climbed out of the car and appeared uninjured.
She was examined at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway medical center and released.
“First thing I said was that I’m not really sure what happened,” said Patrick. “It just seemed to come around and seemed pretty late off the corner.
“They said they looked back at the data and it was kind of a little lift in the middle, a little bit of understeer and then back to it and it just swung.”
Patrick, who announced last November that she would retire with the “Danica Double” contesting America’s two biggest races the Daytona and Indy 500s, saw both end the same way — in crashes.
After qualifying seventh, the Indy 500 had promised the possibility of something special.
During a 14-year career, evenly split between IndyCar and NASCAR, it was the Indy 500 that provided most of the material for Patrick’s career highlight reel and made her one of North America’s most recognizable athletes.
Her third-place finish in 2009 remains the best-ever result by a woman in the Indy 500 while her resume also includes a fourth in 2005 (her rookie debut) and sixth in 2006.
“Yeah, It’s an entire career. But what really launched it was this,” said Patrick. “It’s both of them.
“I’ve had a lot of good fortune here and did still have some this month.
“It just didn’t come on race day but we had some good moments.”
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Indianapolis; Editing by Clare Fallon)