Danica Patrick placed fourth in the 2005 running of the Indianapolis 500, making her the top-finishing woman ever at the famous auto race. It was Patrick's first Indy 500 appearance and she was named the race's rookie of the year. Danica Patrick began driving karts at age 10, then jumped up to the Formula Vauxhall Winter Series in England in 1998, when she was just 16. By 2002 she had signed a contract with Team Rahal. Her Indy 500 debut, combined with her youth, good looks, and the general paucity of women drivers in auto racing, made her a hit with fans and a sudden media favorite. Patrick is also the first woman ever to lead a lap at the Indy 500; driving for the Rahal Letterman team, she led for 19 laps of the 2005 race. She won rookie of the year that year and finished 12th in circuit points. With high hopes pinned on her for the 2006 season, she finished 9th for the year but failed to win a big race. She jumped from Rahal Letterman Racing in 2007 to join Andretti Green Racing, and in 2008 became the first woman to win an IndyCar race (the Japan Indy 300). In 2012 she switched to NASCAR racing, and in 2013 she became the first woman to take the pole position at Daytona 500, finishing 8th in the race.
According to her official site, Patrick is 5?2? tall and weighs 100 pounds? She was the second woman to win rookie of the year honors at Indianapolis; Lyn St. James won in 1992? The 2005 Indy 500 was won by Englishman Dan Wheldon? Patrick was born in 1982, five years after Janet Guthrie became the first woman ever to drive in the Indy 500? Women to drive in the Indy 500 before Patrick include Guthrie (1977-79), St. James (1992-97, 2000), and Sarah Fisher (2000-2004). Another female, Desire Wilson, passed the Indy 500 driver?s test in 1982 but failed to qualify for the race? On 19 November 2005 she married Paul Hospenthal, a physical therapist and personal trainer. She filed for divorce in January of 2013, saying the marriage was ?irretrievably broken.? The same month she confirmed that she was dating another Nascar driver, Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
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