Danica qualifies for Indy 500

Published May. 22, 2011 1:00 a.m. ET

With less than 80 minutes to spare, Danica Patrick qualified for the Indianapolis 500 on Sunday.

The fan favorite was in danger of not making the field for the May 29 race because of rain and technical issues. But about 4:46 p.m. ET Sunday, she ran her four qualifying laps at an average speed of 224.861 mph — and that was enough to get her into the big race.

Earlier, Patrick sat helplessly in her race car — the next driver in line to take the track for Indianapolis 500 qualifying — when IZOD IndyCar Series officials suspended time trials because of rain.

In one of the most dramatic qualifying weekends in recent memory, team errors and foul weather wreaked havoc on IndyCar’s biggest teams. Patrick, who was among the fastest during weeklong practices, was on the verge of finding herself on the outside looking in just to make the race.

Three of Patrick’s four Andretti Autosport teammates failed to qualify on Saturday’s Pole Day session, which set the first 24 cars of the 33-car field. Her quest to make the field got more complicated Sunday when her No. 7 GoDaddy.com car initially failed technical inspection and was sent to the rear of the qualifying line. Team officials wouldn't reveal the reason Patrick's car failed technical inspection.

Two more women tentatively qualified on Sunday. Brazilian Ana Beatriz made the first run, completing her four laps with an average speed of 223.979 mph. British driver Pippa Mann also qualified before rain shut down the track in the afternoon.

With a little more than two hours remaining in the final session — Patrick had until 6 p.m. ET to qualify — the yellow flag came out for a second time. She got back on the track to qualify about 4:46 p.m. ET after one practice lap.


It took about 90 minutes to dry the track after the first downpour Sunday.

Sons of former Indy 500 drivers also made the field. Graham Rahal made it in early Sunday, with Marco Andretti getting a spot before the rain came in.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.