Danica Patrick became an overnight sensation in her first year in the Indy Racing League, when, at the age of 23, she became the first female driver to lead the Indianapolis 500. In all she led for 19 laps, eventually finishing fourth, the highest ever finish by a woman driver.
She ultimately finished 12th in the Indy Racing League and was named Rookie of The Year, appearing on the front cover of Sports Illustrated.
Patrick began karting in 1992 and won several national championships before moving to England at 16 to advance her racing career. After returning to the United States, she signed for the Bobby Rahal team in 2002 and competed in the Barber Dodge Pro Series and the Toyota Atlantic Championship, before switching to Indy Cars in 2005.
Following the Indianapolis 500, Patrick won her first pole position at Kansas Speedway in July, becoming the second woman to accomplish this feat in the IRL IndyCar Series, the first being Sarah Fisher in 2002. In August she won her second pole at Kentucky Speedway, although this time, rain prematurely ended qualifying and position was determined by speeds achieved during practice.
Patrick is still waiting for her first victory in any form of open-wheel competition, but she will be competing again this year in the 2006 IRL IndyCar Series giving her another chance of qualifying and racing in the Indianapolis 500.