Patrick Has Another Confrontation, Another Mediocre Starting Position

Danica Patrick, qualifying for the Honda Indy 200, had a few words for fellow driver Milka Duno.
Danica Patrick, qualifying for the Honda Indy 200, had a few words for fellow driver Milka Duno. (By Tom Puskar -- Associated Press)
Sunday, July 20, 2008

That win earlier this year in Japan must seem like a long time ago to Danica Patrick.

Since her first IndyCar Series victory on April 20, Patrick has struggled to be competitive. Her fifth-place finish last Saturday at Nashville was her first top-five since Motegi. And Patrick was hoping it would be the catalyst for a big finish to the 2008 season.

"That is the kind of stuff that I would, should, could be doing every weekend," Patrick said. "It has been a tough year for me, really. We just haven't really settled on good racecars and we have missed it in the races. We were a lot closer to it at the race at Nashville."

But, if yesterday is any indication, the Honda Indy 200 may be just more of the same struggles that she has faced so many times in the past three months.

Patrick, who started a career-best second here a year ago, was 11th in the morning practice at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.

After getting out of her car, Patrick walked to where Milka Duno, the only other woman in this weekend's race, was pitted and confronted the driver about getting in her way several times during the practice.

The confrontation lasted about a minute, but witnesses said was heated and that Duno flung a towel in Patrick's direction as the two exchanged words before Patrick walked away.

Patrick, who has previously confronted fellow drivers Dan Wheldon and Ryan Briscoe after racing incidents, brushed off the latest dust-up, saying, "I just wanted to know if she saw me out there."

Things didn't get better for Patrick after the confrontation.

She failed to get past the first of three rounds in the knockout-style time trials and will start 20th on the 26-car grid in today's race. Duno qualified last. . . .

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton edged Felipe Massa on the final lap to take the pole for today's German Grand Prix in Hockenheim.

Hamilton went around in 1 minute 15.666 seconds on his last lap to beat the Ferrari driver by 0.193 of a second and start first on the grid for the third time this season.

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