On this day in… 2008

19th April 2017
Henry Hope-Frost

History was made in the United States eight years ago, when Danica Patrick became the first lady racer to win a round of the prestigious and historic IndyCar Series, the country’s top single-seater discipline.

The 26-year-old from Wisconsin was made to wait for her moment of glory, however, as the Firestone IndyCar 300 at Motegi in Japan – the third round of the 2008 championship – was postponed for 24 hours while 10,000 gallons of water, in the form of ‘weepers’, was pumped out of the track surface by machines.

Once the event was cleared to get under way on the Sunday, championship leader Helio Castroneves, who finished fourth in the season-opening race in Miami and second in round two on the Florida streets of St Petersburg, took up his place in pole position, having qualified fastest of the 18 Dallara-Hondas on the Japanese oval.

The Brazilian Penske Racing ace converted his advantage into the lead, where he stayed for 93 of the 200 laps before the pit stop cycle began. The Chip Ganassi Racing car of Scott Dixon, who won in Miami, took over for the next 100 laps, before losing out to team-mate Dan Wheldon.


The British driver held on out front for just two laps before fuel-consumption issues struck, as they had done for much of the field. It meant that poleman Castroneves was back in front with just three laps to run, but he hadn’t factored in Andretti Green racer Danica Patrick, who had started sixth and, thanks to a gallon-perfect strategy, worked her way to the front.

The #7 Dallara catches the ailing Penske machine pretty quickly and soon breezes past to take an historic victory. Eight years on, Patrick remains the only woman to win a race at that level.

IndyCar, Motegi, 2008 – 200 laps

1. Danica Patrick (USA) – Andretti Green Racing, 1h51m02.67s

2. Helio Castroneves (BR) – Team Penske, +5.85s

3. Scott Dixon (NZ) – Chip Ganassi Racing, +10.05s

4. Dan Wheldon (GB) – Chip Ganassi Racing, +13.11s

5. Tony Kanaan (BR) – Andretti Green Racing, +16.07s

6. Ed Carpenter (USA) – Vision Racing, +16.82s

Images courtesy of LAT

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