12:10 AM CDT on Sunday, June 6, 2010
Ryan Briscoe has more pressing things on his mind than giving the fans at Texas Motor Speedway what they wanted to see in Saturday night’s Firestone 550K.
With Danica Patrick vying for her first IndyCar Series victory on American soil, Briscoe pulled away from Patrick late to win his first race of the season.
The pole sitter, who dominated last year’s race only to lose the lead to Helio Castroneves on the last pit stop, passed Patrick on Lap 193 and won the race by 1.4629 seconds.
The win moved the driver of the No. 6 Team Penske car from seventh to fifth in the standings.
Instead of her second IndyCar victory, Patrick had to settle for second place. It’s the best finish she’s had since her victory in Japan in 2008 and matched her best finish in the series in the U.S.
Patrick, who started eighth, brought the estimated crowd of 73,000 to their feet when she went around Briscoe on the frontstretch on Lap 192 to take the lead.
That marked the first time she’s led a lap this season, but it didn’t last long. On the next lap, Briscoe got even with Patrick and after a brief stint of side-by-side racing, used the push-to-pass button to complete the pass.
“He just drove around the outside of me, so there’s not really much I can do but swerve and drive into the side of him,” said Patrick. “That doesn’t get you real far. He did a good job. He was fast. He won. It was a good day.”
The second-place showing continues a recent upward tick for Patrick, whose Indy 500 preparations got off to a bad start when she was booed by fans after she criticized her No. 7 Team Godaddy.com team. She rebounded and finished sixth at Indy.
“It was probably my best cleanest race,” said Patrick, who has four consecutive top-10 finishes at TMS. “So many times I’ve had good races and it gets overlooked because you know you’re not in the lead.
“Tonight was my best race top to bottom getting in the pits, getting out of the pits and being good on the track.”
Briscoe led a race-high 102 laps, after leading just 49 through the first six races. He was also coming off a disappointing 24th-place finish at the Indianapolis 500 where an error coming out of the pits led to a crash.
Saturday’s victory – the seventh of the Australian’s career – eases some of the sting of Indy. He was also impressed with Patrick’s run.
“She did an amazing job tonight,” Briscoe said. “I had a lot of fun racing side-by-side with her. Good for her for the job she did tonight.”
Briscoe’s victory ended a streak of the Indy 500 winners following that with a victory at TMS. Dario Franchitti looked to make that streak three consecutive years, and was the class of the field early. But in traffic, it was another story and Franchitti had to settle for fifth and is still winless at TMS.
“It was looking good the first half of the race there,” said Franchitti, who did take the points lead over Will Power. “It was horrendous in traffic. I was just hanging on.”
Marco Andretti finished third, his best showing at TMS. It also continued a strong day for Andretti Autosport, with Patrick second and Tony Kanaan sixth.
Danica Patrick was born on March 25th, 1982 according to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danica_Patrick
3 + 25 +2+0+1+0 = 31 = her personal year (from March 25th, 2010 to March 24th, 2011) = Competition. Challenges. Tests. Contests. Contestant. Runner-up. Competitor. Contender. Striving to be number 1. Personal best. Outdoing yourself. Rising to the challenge.