INDIANAPOLIS - With 136 laps completed and potential race-ending rain clouds approaching in Sunday's Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick was running second to teammate Tony Kanaan and looking like a serious contender for a history-making victory.
She wound up eighth after losing time in the pits, getting snared in lapped traffic and not having the chance to battle back because rain ended the race 34 laps early.
'This is probably the most frustrating of all,' Patrick said. 'I really felt like I had a chance. I really had a fast car. But silly lapped traffic got in the way. These guys are hanging on to their cars for dear life and not looking around very much.'
That her eighth place-finish gave her a third consecutive top-10 in America's most famous race was little consolation to Patrick. She had her sights set on becoming the first woman to win the race.
'This elusive win keeps sitting on my shoulder,' she said. 'Eighth is not anything like we wanted, especially since we were running second behind Tony for a long time. It's definitely a disappointing day.'
She came out in 13th, worked her way back to fourth, then fell back to 10th after a final pit stop under caution on Lap 155. The race had only five laps of green-flag racing after that before the rain arrived.
UNSPECTACULAR: A record three women started the race, and while Patrick fared well, Sarah Fisher drove to a quiet 18th-place finish, and rookie Milka Duno crashed out.
Fisher, making her first Indy start since 2004 and driving for lower-level Dreyer & Reinbold Racing, did get her highest Indy finish in six starts.
'We didn't have everything go our way,' Fisher said. 'As competitive as this sport is, it's really difficult unless everything goes your way. I got caught up in traffic a couple of times, and we had some pit road issues.'
Duno fared better than some expected, considering the fact that she was about 6 mph slower than the next slowest car in Friday's Carb Day practice. She was on the lead lap when she veered into the Turn 1 wall on Lap 66.
'I was having a good race,' said Duno, a sports car racer from Caracas, Venezuela. 'I was in 22nd when I had a penalty for speeding on pit road. When we went green, I was passing a car in Turn 1 when my car spun. It was a fantastic day.'
CREWMAN INJURED: Dan Brown, a crew member for Al Unser Jr., was taken to nearby Methodist Hospital with multiple foot fractures after an early race pit road mishap. Darren Manning, Unser's teammate, ran over Brown's foot. Also taken to Methodist was veteran Roberto Moreno, who crashed hard on Lap 37. An MRI was negative for a back injury.
HOT LAPS: Think football heroes aren't revered in Indiana? The Rev. Daniel Buechlein, archbishop of Indianapolis, ended his prerace invocation with this: 'God bless our drivers and Peyton.' Peyton Manning, quarterback of the NFL champion Indianapolis Colts, was the honorary starter. Actor and occasional race driver Patrick Dempsey, the honorary pace car driver, said he hopes to start filming a feature film on the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans in March.