After all of the fashion shoots and hype, Danica Patrick is finally getting her shot at the big time. Patrick is one of four rookies coming into the Indy Car series this year. Racing for Rahal-Letterman Honda, she'll go up against guys like Dario Franchitti and Tony Kanaan. It's a big jump from the Toyota Atlantic series (Champ Car's feeder series), but it helps when you've got last year's Indy 500 winner, Buddy Rice, on your team. In an IRL conference call with reporters, Patrick said, "I think this year I really am just going to keep an eye on Buddy and Vitor and use those guys as my best markers, as they're probably the closest apples to apples I can use."
If scrutiny is severe at the beginning of the season, it will be nothing compared to what she'll see in May. Patrick will most likely be the fourth woman to start in the Indy 500 (Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James, Sarah Fisher being the previous three). Unlike Fisher, the last woman to do it, Patrick will be in a championship-caliber car. But Patrick brushes the pressure aside. Maybe it's nothing compared to being a pinup.
"At the end of the day, I'm just another driver," she said, clearly eager to put this line of questioning behind her. "I have my own expectations and my own goals and my own career to focus on. To me it doesn't matter so much. I just need to go out there and kick some butt and hopefully everybody's happy and I'm happy, and that's a fun story to write about."
As for going fast, that's a natural thing: "You get used to speeds. Everybody is kind of going around the same rate anyway. It's all irrelevant. It's like driving down the highway when you're going 80. Everybody's going about the same, except for that crazy person in the left lane doing 65.