Danica's Return Continues Trend Of Outside Drivers In the Indy 500
INDIANAPOLIS -- Indianapolis Motor Speedway President Doug Boles says he and everyone at IMS found out when you did that Danica Patrick was planning to return one final time to the race that made her famous.
"We couldn't get confirmation so we tuned in like everyone else to find out what she was doing," Boles said after hearing rumors of Patrick's return to IMS. "Turns out she's running Daytona and Indy next year so we're glad to have her back."
Patrick, the first female driver to lead laps at the Indianapolis 500 back in 2005, announced on Friday that she plans to retire from full-time racing next year, after running the Daytona 500 in the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series in February. She will then turn around in May and make one last run in the Indianapolis 500 in the IndyCar Series.
"You know it's fitting that she ends her career where she started," Boles continued. "It was the speedway and the Indy 500 that catapulted her to international stardom when she led at the speedway. It seems to me she's excited to end here career here because of that."
Boles also acknowledges that with Patrick's announcement to return to the 500, this is continuing a trend of drivers from other big-time racing series' coming to Indianapolis in May to run the in the historic race.
"This is the third year in the last four that we've had a bigger driver from a different series come over," Boles added. "You had Kurt Busch (NASCAR) a few years ago, you had Fernando last year, and now we'll have Danica this year."
Formula 1's Fernando Alonso is not expected to make another run in the Indy 500 this year after he took home "Rookie of the Year" honors in the 101st running. Boles says he would like to see other NASCAR drivers make a run as well, like Kyle Busch or Kyle Larson.
Boles also says the ticket sales for the 102nd running of the Indianapolis 500 are strong once again. Even with tickets just going on sale a couple weeks ago, Boles expects attendance to be higher this coming year compared to 2017. He attributes this to momentum built from the 100th running of the race, which saw it's first sellout in nearly 50 years in 2015.
(PHOTO: Nick Laham/Getty Images)