Roger Penske And Sam Hornish Jr. Reflect On Danica Patrick’s Legacyby Benjamin Sanders November 19, 2017
HOMESTEAD, Fla. – With Danica Patrick announcing that she is going to run the Indianapolis 500 in 2018, it has garnered the attention of two legends of North American open-wheel, and they had nothing but positive things to say about her and her decisions.
Despite not having the results she may have liked, Patrick has garnered and earned the respect of fellow competitors like Roger Penske and Sam Hornish Jr. across multiple racing categories.
“I don’t think that you can say she’s closing her career,” Penske said. “She’s built her reputation commercially and certainly has been someone that we’ve all looked up to taking on the group that she has here at a Cup level, and she was a good racer. I think she’s going to come back to IndyCar a lot tougher having run in NASCAR and XFINITY and what we’re doing here. I think she’s going to be ‑‑ in a good car she’ll pick it up. She’s got plenty of time to practice, and you know, it’s four corners, a little bit different than maybe some races. But I take my hat off to her. If she can run the Daytona 500 where she’s been on the pole and run competitively, I think it’s a great way for her to maybe say, hey, I’m here, I’ve done it, I’m going to go back to the two biggest races and see if I can’t get on top.”
Penske also joked that his IndyCar team is full and rival Chip Ganassi has a couple of open seats. Gansssi cut two of his four IndyCar teams after 2017.
“I wasn’t ready to make an announcement,” Penske said. “I’m not sure he (Chip Ganassi) is. I sent him a note. I said, congratulations, Danica is going to be driving your car at Indy. Unfortunately, she’s not driving for us. But I think that’s a great seat for her. If she is going to drive, that’s a great team. They’re the ones that have always been competitive there. I take my hat off that she wants to continue to go back to open wheel. That’s going to be terrific for the sport and a lot of interest around the country.”
Hornish Jr. was also in the same boat as Patrick, not wanting to step in an open wheel car again after the awful multi-car crash in the 2011 Indycar World Championship at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which claimed Dan Wheldon’s life; however, he believes this is a great opportunity for her.
“I think that’s obviously a great opportunity for anybody that ‑‑ if it is a close to a career, to be able to go run the Daytona 500 and Indy 500. You think about how many people as kids, as adults, whatever it is, dream of being able to run in one of those two races, and for somebody to have the opportunity to do both of them in one year, I mean, it’s a great thing. Obviously, you think about just the time span and the differences in the cars from probably when she was in them last, there’s going to be a little bit of a difference in the way that even just the races are run.”
The three-time IndyCar champion and 2006 IndyCar Series champion believes the skills Patrick has developed in NASCAR will only benefit her come next year’s Indianapolis 500.
“I think that if you look at the way that things are over there, patience is a big key about what the 500 is now and positioning yourself at the end, and that’s so much of what NASCAR is,” Hornish said. “So, I think I agree with Roger on the fact that she’s probably going to have a better shot at Indy because of what she’s done over the last five years.”
With Danica’s presence, both the Daytona 500 and Indianapolis 500 will have an increase in attention and eyeballs next season. Patrick’s legacy still has at minimum, one chapter left.
Photo Credit: Ben Sanders/TheFourthTurn.com