Danica Patrick to Return to Indianapolis 500 in New Role

Danica Patrick will be on the track when the Indianapolis 500 takes place at the end of this month. It was announced on Wednesday that Patrick will drive the pace car for IndyCar's biggest event of the season. She will drive a 2021 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray hardtop convertible to lead the field on May 30.

"I am very honored to drive the pace car this year at the Indy 500," Patrick said in a news release, per the Indianapolis Star. Patrick will also serve as a studio analyst for the live race broadcast, which will air on NBC. She will be joined by Mike Tirico and NASCAR legend Jimmie Johnson. "It is even more special because of the past year we have all endured, and it will be so nice to see fans back in the stands, Patrick stated. "I have always loved Chevy vehicles, and the Corvette convertible is such a beautiful car. Maybe they will let me drive it home!"

Patrick has her share of history at the Indianapolis 500. In 2005, she became the first woman to lead laps in the race. In 2009, Patrick finished in third place, which was the highest finish for a woman in the history of Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

"We're happy to welcome back Danica to the place where she made motorsports history as the first female driver to lead 'The Greatest Spectacle in Racing,'" IMS President Doug Boles said. "She will provide a unique perspective for NBC viewers while behind the wheel of the powerful Corvette Stingray convertible."

Patrick's final start in the Indianapolis 500 came in 2018 and finished 30th. After that race, she has served an analyst for NBC Sports. But along with doing big things at the Indianapolis 500, Patrick also held her ground in NASCAR. In 191 Cup Series races, Patrick finished in the top 10 seven times and earned pole once. One of her most notable top 10 finishes was the Daytona 500 where she finished eighth in 2013.

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"I miss that, like, part that I grew up loving, which was this sort of instant gratification part of going out, lap time, improving, finishing positions.," Patrick said on her Pretty Intense podcast when talking about what she misses most about racing. So that's all really tangible numbers, and so, so many other things that I do, like everything now … there's not that quick, instant gratification from, you know, 27 seconds to the next 27 seconds. So I do kind of miss that instant reward stuff that you had with progress of making the car handle better and finishing better. Things seem to take a little longer to turn the ship with these things."