By Frank Pingue
(Reuters) – Danica Patrick will return to the racing world at this year’s Indianapolis 500 as a TV analyst, rather than racing around the storied oval at blazing speeds.
Patrick, who wound up her racing career after last year’s Indianapolis 500, was announced on Wednesday as part of the broadcast team for NBC Sports’ inaugural coverage of “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing” on May 26.
“The Indianapolis 500 holds a very special place in my heart,” Patrick said in a statement.
“The moment I drive into the facility, I’m flooded with positive emotions. I have no doubt it’ll be the same this year when I come back as an analyst.”
Patrick finished third at the Indianapolis 500 in 2009, the best result ever at the Brickyard by a woman driver.
She said her decision to join the NBC Sports team, where she will also contribute to pre-race and post-race coverage, is not a sign that she misses the thrill of racing.
“I’m not a look-back kind of person, I’m a look-forward,” Patrick told a conference call on Wednesday. “So I feel like this is part of looking forward, this is something totally new and different for me.
“Now, it’s coming at a place where I have a lot of history but this hasn’t been my job which is why I am going to work really hard to make sure that I am ready like anything else I do that is different.”
Patrick is no stranger to the role of race analyst. While still an active driver in NASCAR, she served as a guest analyst for Fox Sports’ coverage of NASCAR Xfinity races in Michigan, Pocono and Talladega.
Patrick, the only woman to win an IndyCar race and to start from pole at the Daytona 500, was perhaps the most outspoken driver during her racing career and said that will not change when she serves as a studio analyst.
“Oh yes. Can’t change my stripes,” said Patrick. “I won’t be afraid to give my opinion.”
(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Toby Davis)