CHICAGO (AP) Danica Patrick's new car got a grand introduction on Tuesday.
She took it on a short ride through the Chicago streets before officially unveiling the #7 Motorola she will drive for Andretti Green Racing next season.
â€œIt's black, it's sort of sleek, it looks fast,â€ Patrick said.
And it resembles a batmobile. She hopes it performs like one, too.
Patrick rode to stardom in 2005 when she finished 4th at the Indianapolis 500 and was the IRL rookie of the year. But this year was difficult.
Teammate Paul Dana died after crashing during a warm-up for the season opener at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Patrick experienced mechanical problems, and Rahal Letterman Racing switched to a Dallara chassis in midseason. And in July, Patrick announced she was joining Andretti Green at the end of the season.
Her new car is a Dallara chassis with a Honda engine.
Although rain cut the ride short, Patrick drove the car along Wacker Drive and Michigan Avenue and did a â€œnice little burnout at the lightâ€ before arriving at the River East Art Center. Club music blared, strobe lights swirled and steam rose as a white curtain dropped, revealing the black car with a blue Motorola logo and letters.
â€œI expect it to feel better,â€ Patrick said. â€œI expect it to be very good in race conditions, and those are the most important conditions because they're the ones that matter in the end; not qualifying.''
An Andretti Green team that produced the previous two series champions, Tony Kanaan in 2004 and Dan Wheldon in 2005, spent most of the year trying to catch up to Marlboro Team Penske and Target Chip Ganassi Racing, just like the rest of the IRL. The Marlboro and Ganassi teams won the first 9 races and 12 of 14 in all.
Andretti Green won twice, but it took awhile to get to the winner's circle.
Kanaan won at the Milwaukee Mile. And 19 year old Marco Andretti won at Infeon Raceway two weeks ago, making him the youngest winner of a major open wheel race. Meanwhile, Penske's Sam Hornish Jr. won the series title on a tiebreaker over Ganassi driver Wheldon.
With Patrick and Marco Andretti, Andretti Green will have two of the most marketable drivers.
â€œIt gives us more tools to work with,â€ co-owner Michael Andretti said. â€œIt brings a lot to the party to allow us to do a better job to catch the other cars, and that's what we're going to be doing in the offseason. We're going to be putting a lot of resources toward closing the gap that those teams had this year.''