Danica Patrick says that she would only consider racing in the Indianapolis 500 again if she could drive a car capable of winning the race.
The former IndyCar racer missed the 500 this year for the first time since her headline-grabbing debut there in 2005, as she was racing in the top two tiers of NASCAR at Charlotte on the same weekend. Patrick hinted back in May that she would be open to a return to IndyCar's biggest race in the future and, speaking ahead of her first NASCAR weekend at Indianapolis, she said she would be interested in joining a serious program capable of competing at the front.
"The Indy 500 next year, I would love to do it," Patrick said. "I've said that all along – I love the track, I love the race.
"I feel like it was always one of my strongest races of the year in IndyCar, so I feel like that's something I would like to do, and maybe it will happen, maybe it won't. But I can tell you the only way it's going to happen is if it's with someone I really feel I can have a shot to go out there and win."
The former Andretti Autosport driver said that she would not want to make an uncompetitive return to the Indy 500 because of her record there. In seven starts she took six top 10 finishes, with a best result of third in 2009. She also led the race in 2005 and 2011.
"It's unfair to the history I've had and to my memory to do anything less than that," she said of fighting to win. "I wouldn't want to wreck anything I've experienced here with something to take away from that.
"So if we do it, it'll be with a shot to be able to win. On top of that, there's a whole lot of logistical issues to iron out. But first and foremost, a good car."
Patrick is currently ninth in the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings. Her boss, Tony Stewart, reiterated at Indy earlier this week that he still hopes to field three cars full time in the Sprint Cup Series, with Patrick joining himself and Ryan Newman. "It has been [the hope] since we signed Danica," he said.