Race driver Danica Patrick announced she will end her career next season at the Indianapolis 500, according to the Associated Press.
Patrick was giddy with excitement and thrilled at the chance to take one more spin around Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
When it came time to announce her plans to the world, with her mother, father, sister, brother-in-law, boyfriend and support team watching from the back of a crowded room at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Patrick broke down in tears.
She paused several times to compose herself to announce that she will race only in the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 and then she will walk away from the sport where she became one of the most recognizable female athletes in the world.
Patrick told the AP it took her many months to come to the realization her career is basically over. Once she accepted it, the idea of ending her career at Indy popped into her head. She told her agent, and she’s been working on putting together “The Danica Double” over the last several weeks.
“Nothing that was being presented excited me, then about three weeks ago, I just blurted out, ’What about Indy? Let’s end it with the Indy 500,’” she said. “This ignites something in me. But I am done after May. Everyone needs to put their mind there. My plan is to be at Indy, and then I’m done.”
Patrick is the only woman to have led laps in both the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500. Patrick ran the Indy 500 from 2005 through 2011. Her highest finish was third in 2009, and she was the first woman to lead laps in the race when she paced the field for 19 trips around the Brickyard as a rookie.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.