After months of speculation, Danica Patrick has finally confirmed that she has signed with Ed Carpenter Racing to compete in the 2018 Indianapolis 500. Patrick will compete in the ‘Danica Double’ – the Daytona 500 this Sunday and the Indianapolis 500 in May – to cap off her motorsport career before retiring.
Patrick announced her intentions of running the two races back in November at the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Since then, she has been searching for rides for both events but struggled initially to ink a deal. In January, Danica’s former long-term sponsors GoDaddy announced that they would re-partner with her for her final two races. Shortly after, Danica signed a deal with NASCAR Cup Series team Premium Motorsports to race in the Daytona 500 that will take place this weekend.
Now, Danica has finally confirmed the second half of the ‘Danica Double’. She will join Ed Carpenter Racing for the Indy 500 in May, as the full-time Verizon IndyCar Series team expand to a three-car effort for the famous race.
“I’m super excited to run for Ed,” Patrick told WRTV in Indianapolis. “He’s obviously been a great competitor over the years. We’ve raced with each other a ton. Part of that relationship also came from Matt Barnes, who works for him, his head of engineering. He was my engineer back in 2009 (with Andretti Autosport). We finished fifth in the championship.
“Matt and I are very like-minded to kind of go for things. I’ve kept in touch with him since I left INDYCAR. Between Ed and having a great team and always being competitive, qualifying really well, having fast cars and Matt being involved, it seemed like the perfect option.”
The announcement wasn’t supposed to happen when it did. Earlier this week, Danica accidentally told reporters that she would be racing for ECR and was seen to be frustrated with herself for giving the game away. Nevertheless, both Danica and team-owner/team-mate Ed Carpenter are looking forward to their upcoming partnership.
“I’m excited,” Carpenter told FOX59 in Indianapolis. “I wasn’t planning on talking about it (Wednesday night). It interrupted Valentine’s (Day) plans a little bit, but excited nonetheless. I’m hoping Danica has a good Daytona 500 and then we can all get focused on having a great month of May together.
“We’ve seen what happens when people come back [to race in the Indy 500], whether it was when Kurt Busch came or [Fernando] Alonso last year. And Danica’s return to Indy is going to be as big, if not bigger, than those other stories. I think it’s exciting to be a part of it, to be a part of her history as her farewell to racing in moving onto the next phase in her life. We’re excited for it and we’re building some fast cars hopefully.”
“She has high expectations. We have high expectations, as usual. When we look at running extra cars, we always want it to be a good situation and Danica certainly fits the bill there. She’s led laps, almost won the race before, she has a great track record there, so we’re excited to have her as part of the team.”
Patrick will race in this weekend’s Daytona 500 before turning her attention to her return to the IndyCar Series. Danica will race in May’s Indianapolis 500 for the first time since 2011. Patrick has finished in the top ten in all but one of her seven starts at the Brickyard. Her best finish came in 2009 when she took third, but despite leading many laps at Indy during the course of her career, the win never came her way. She’ll be hoping to end her career with the elusive Indy 500 victory; a victory that would be her second in IndyCar having become the first woman to win in the series back in 2008 at Twin-Ring Motegi.
She’s with a team that could help her achieve that too, with ECR having shown great speed at Indianapolis over the last few years after taking back-to-back pole positions in 2013 and 2014 in the hands of Carpenter himself.
Practice for the 2018 Indianapolis 500 will begin on May 15, followed by two days of qualifying on May 19-20. The race itself will take place on May 27. In the meantime, the Verizon IndyCar Series continues to prepare for it’s season-opening Grand Prix of St. Petersburg that will take place on March 11.