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Rediff.com  » Sports » Sports Shorts: Danica ready for her final Daytona 500 start

Sports Shorts: Danica ready for her final Daytona 500 start

Last updated on: February 16, 2018 22:52 IST

Danica Patrick

IMAGE: Danica Patrick stands in the garage area. Photograph: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

Danica Patrick, who inspired young women to break into the male-dominated sport of motor racing, will make her final NASCAR start at Sunday's Daytona 500.

 

"Not only is it the biggest (NASCAR) race of the year, it's wide open from a performance standpoint," Patrick told reporters this week at Daytona 500 media day. "It's exciting. Anything can happen."

Patrick's start on Sunday, in what is known as the Great American Race, is the first half of what is being dubbed the "Danica Double" and will be followed by her final appearance in the Indianapolis 500 in May before retiring.

Although Patrick has never won a NASCAR race in 190 starts, she is the only woman to win the Daytona 500 pole, which she did in 2013 before going on to a career-best 8th place finish in that race. Last year she finished 28th in NASCAR Cup standings.

Patrick says that she came to NASCAR with high intentions of success, but it did not work out that way.

However, she insisted that she had no regrets over the journey that her career has taken.

"I'm not one of those people that looks back on anything and says, I wish this would have been different. I am happy with where I am now," she said.

While her statistics don't stand up to seven-times NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, Patrick's legacy may have more impact on the next generation.

"Danica has been someone for my daughters to look up to," Johnson told reporters at the Daytona International Speedway.

"That's the impact she's had in sports and women in sports."

Patrick, 35, parlayed a ground-breaking debut performance in the 2005 running of the Indy 500 into a career where the young driver shined at first.

She qualified fourth, led laps and finished fourth that year establishing a record for women at the time.

Although she was competitive in open wheel cars, Patrick won only one IndyCar race in a seven-year stint consisting of 117 starts.

ISL: Pune stay in race for play-offs after draw with Bengaluru

Pune FC kept their play-offs hopes alive with a 1-1 draw against debutants Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League match in Bengaluru on Friday.

Pune’s coach Ranko Popovic will be happy with result as his team remain second on the points-table with 29 points, with 28 goals scored in 16 matches.

Bengaluru, who have already qualified for the play-offs, are table-toppers with 34 points, after finding the net on 31 occasions in 16 matches.

Pune opened the scoring in 22nd minute through Sarthak Goluli, giving coach Popovic something thing to smile about.

It was a team goal as Marcelino Leite Pereira turned his marker down and laid the ball for Emiliano Alfaro Toscano, who squared it off for Goluli to finish.

Bengaluru got the equaliser in 76th minute through Miku, who tapped a cross from Semboi off a faulty clearance from Baljit Sahni.

Inconsistent Woods five back of clubhouse lead at Riviera

Tiger Woods finished five shots back of clubhouse leader Tom Hoge after mostly struggling off the tee in the first round of the Genesis Open in Pacific Palisades, California.

Woods, in his second start of the PGA Tour season after a year-long absence during which he had back surgery, shot a one-over-par 72 at Riviera Country Club in a roller-coaster round that included five birdies, four bogeys and a double-bogey.

Hoge birdied the last to finish with a four-under-par 67 that left him in sole possession of the clubhouse lead while fellow American Sam Saunders was five-under through 11 holes.

Former world number one Woods, playing in a high-profile group with four-times major winner Rory McIlroy (71) and reigning Player of the Year Justin Thomas (69), was forced to lean heavily on his short game given his struggles off the tee.

Woods made birdie at his opening hole, the par-four 10th, but was inconsistent over the next seven holes that included a double-bogey, two bogeys and two birdies.

The 14-times major winner started to steady the ship on his back nine, which he began with a birdie followed by a string of three consecutive pars that was broken at the par-four fifth where Woods opted for an iron off the tee.

He pulled his tee shot left into thick rough and brought his ball back into play with his second shot but was still well short of the green. His pitch from about 40 yards bounced well past the hole en route to a bogey.

Woods made a another bogey two holes later followed by a birdie on his penultimate hole before closing with a par.

He finished the day having hit eight of 14 fairways, seven of 18 greens in regulation and needing 25 putts.

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