INDIANAPOLIS, May 27 (Reuters) - Danica Patrick’s racing career ended with a bang on Sunday but not the fairytale finish she had hoped, crashing out of the Indianapolis 500.
Before leaving the Brickyard that had been the stage for many of her career highlights, Patrick fulfilled one final obligation sucking up her disappointment for a meeting with the media she so often had a love-hate relationship with.
“I didn’t really want (to be here),” Patrick said. “I don’t even want to be here because I’m pretty sad.
“I guess I’ll stop there.”
Feisty and competitive, Patrick rarely backed down from anyone during a ground-breaking career split between NASCAR and IndyCar.
The only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500, Patrick left her mark on the two biggest and most popular motorsport series in North America.
She announced last November she would retire this year and bring the curtain down with the “Danica Double” by contesting the Daytona and Indy 500s.
As far as swan songs go February’s Daytona 500 was a bust ending in a wreck. The Indy 500 promised much but ended the same way.
“Definitely not a great ending,” said Patrick. “Today was a tough day.”
While there was plenty of disappointment in Patrick’s words there was not a hint of regret, having been steadfast in the buildup to Sunday’s race she would not get behind the wheel again and had no interest in being involved as an owner or mentor to young racers.
Instead, as one of the most marketable athletes in North America Patrick has been able to turn her fame into businesses ranging from wine to a clothing line, opportunities that she said would keep her busy.
“Whenever you talk about retiring to someone they are like what are you going to do next,” Patrick told Reuters in an interview prior to the race.
“Most people don’t have anything when they retire and have to figure it out after.
“I have plenty of things to keep me busy and that’s just what is happening currently and doesn’t include what I want to do.”
Patrick may not miss racing but the motorsport world would miss her, motor racing great Mario Andretti told Reuters.
“She’s been an asset for the sport and probably inspired many,” Andretti said. “She’s been a great ambassador for the sport in general.
“The sport will miss her for sure. I have the highest respect for her ... she didn’t leave anything on the table.
“It’s a tough world to carve out your niche and she did that.” (Editing by Greg Stutchbury)