Drivers wish Patrick well in new endeavor

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That same year Patrick became the first woman to lead at the Indy 500 _ she finished fourth _ then won her first IndyCar race in 2008. Her best season came the following year when Patrick finished fifth overall.

Heading into this weekend’s Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma, Patrick is 12th in points.

Franchitti, who clocked the fastest time during Friday’s qualifying at Infineon Raceway, has been a longtime friend of Patrick‘s. Like most drivers, he had been expecting her to make the switch to NASCAR for a while.

“Her results (in IndyCar) had not been what she had hoped and I could see her getting frustrated because of that,” Franchitti said. “She’s gone a direction she feels is better for her, and good for her. I’ll miss having her around as a friend at the track.

“Certainly in the Nationwide Series I think she’ll do a very good job there. I’ll be watching with interest.”

Patrick, who emphatically denied that she was making the move because of the money, doesn’t think IndyCar will suffer much without her.

“The car count is up and the competition level is definitely up,” she said. “(IndyCar CEO Randy Bernard) has brought some fresh ideas and approaches to the IndyCar series, and as I’ve said over the last few years things are really on the up and up. It doesn’t change how I feel and what I want to do … but I think IndyCar is still going up.”

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