INDIANAPOLIS – Danica Patrick loves good omens.
She learned of a couple of them Saturday that could bode well for her in the Indianapolis 500.
The popular if polarizing Patrick, who will be racing for the final time Sunday, spent the morning signing autographs alongside Scott Dixon and Helio Castroneves at the racetrack. The trio will make up the third row when the green flag drops, with Patrick starting on the inside.
“First, I observed that we might be the oldest row,” Patrick joked in a posting on social media . She turned 36 in March, Dixon will celebrate his 38th birthday in July and Castroneves turned 43 earlier this month.
Then, Dixon leaned over and reminded Patrick that the trio was on the podium together when she won at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. Her breakthrough victory in April 2008 made Patrick the first woman to win a top-level sanctioned open-wheel race.
Castroneves was second that day and Dixon was third.
“I love a good sign,” Patrick said. “One more day until my last race.”
The fact that she’s nearing the conclusion of her career, with seemingly no regrets, has resulted in a laid-back attitude all month. Patrick has spent more time chatting with reporters, signing autographs for fans and soaking in the atmosphere than she had in the past.
She even took a humorous picture with Castroneves on Saturday, when the duo received their rings for starting the Indy 500. Castroneves had a large one and Danica a much smaller one, and she posted the photo next to one from the Japan podium, where she stood next to a massive trophy as the winner and Castroneves held up a dinky version of the same trophy as the runner-up.
Patrick doesn’t intend to make her farewell race a 500-mile parade, though, even if she’s taking a more easygoing approach. She believes her Chevrolet-powered ride from Ed Carpenter Racing has the handling and horsepower to win, as evidenced by a qualifying effort that left her starting seventh.
She had a few issues in the final practice on Carb Day, mainly with the electronics, but pronounced the car ready to go after getting back onto the track for the last few minutes.
“I’m glad to get the issues out of the way early on,” she said. “We made some changes when I went out the second time, and I’m feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday.”