- The Washington Times - Monday, April 28, 2008

KANSAS CITY, Kan. (AP) — Danica Patrick walked through the pits with quick, purposeful steps. Her head barely moved, eyes masked behind designer sunglasses as she worked her way toward the team trailer.

Patrick stepped behind a barricade, signed about a half-dozen autographs and curtly answered a TV reporter’s questions before disappearing into the hauler after a few seconds.

The tears of joy from a historic win a week earlier were long gone yesterday, replaced by frowns and frustration after a mechanical failure on the 157th lap knocked Patrick out of the RoadRunner Turbo Indy 300 at Kansas Speedway.

Dan Wheldon won the race, his 14th career victory, by holding off Tony Kanaan.

“I am disappointed that the Motorola car had to cut the day short due to the right rear wheel mount,” Patrick said. “I came on the radio earlier in the race saying there was some movement in the car, but we had no idea that it was that serious.”

Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race last week in Motegi, Japan, a victory that came in her 50th career race and set off an unexpected emotional outburst. A weeklong flurry of TV appearances, dozens of interviews, even a movie premiere followed, and she kept the momentum going on the track by qualifying third for the Kansas race.

Fighting a poor-handling car for most of the day, Patrick never threatened the lead and hovered between seventh and 12th for most of the race. Her day ended during a yellow-flag pit stop when the crew was unable to remove the right rear wheel and had to shut the car down.

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