Chicago - Danica Patrick retires from auto racing with no regrets after Sunday's Indianapolis 500, but she hopes her last race goes smoother than her final practice session went on Friday.
Due to an electrical mishap, Patrick took only 15 practice laps, the fewest of any of the 33 drivers in the last one-hour session ahead of the 102nd Indy showdown of 200 laps over the famed 2.5-mile (4km) oval course.
"These are things you're actually glad for," Patrick said. "If this had happened Sunday we would have been done. I'm glad to get the issues out of the way. I'm feeling good about starting seventh on Sunday."
Patrick's groundbreaking career will conclude no matter what happens in the 36-year-old American's final race, her first IndyCar event since leaving the open-wheel series to drive closed-cockpit stock cars in 2012.
"I don't regret any of the moves I've made," Patrick said. "It wouldn't be so dramatic if I wasn't gone for seven years."
Patrick is the only woman to ever reach an Indy 500 podium, taking third in 2009, and the only woman to ever lead the Indy 500, which she did as the 2005 Indy 500 Rookie of the Year.
She became the first woman to win an IndyCar race by taking the 2008 Indy Japan 300 at Motegi.
Patrick's car is owned by Ed Carpenter, the hometown hero who qualified for his third Indy 500 pole in six races and happily backed Patrick's bid for one last ride.
"She has definitely been a big part of the history of the IndyCar series and the Indianapolis 500. And at the same time, the Indianapolis 500 was a big part of putting her name on the map. It's fitting that she's ending her career here."
Carpenter, who took the inside front row starting spot with a four-lap qualifying average of 229.618 mph (369.53 km/h), makes his 15th Indy 500 start hoping to improve on his best finish of fifth in 2008.
France's Simon Pagenaud will start beside him in the middle of row one with Australian Will Power on the outside.
Row two features American Josef Newgarden, the IndyCar season points leader, with France's Sebastien Bourdais and American Spencer Pigot.
"We have all the ingredients necessary to be good here," Newgarden said. "We have an opportunity to win."
Patrick opens on the inside of row three alongside three-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves and 2008 Indy 500 champion Scott Dixon of New Zealand.
Castroneves, a 43-year-old Brazilian whose most recent victory came in 2009, makes another bid to match American record-holders A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Means with a fourth career Indy 500 victory.
"We can do it," Castroneves said. "I'll do everything I can to make it happen."
Brazil's Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 winner, starts directly behind Patrick in 10th and boasted Friday's fastest practice lap at 227.791 mph, more than 2mph ahead of second-best Dixon.
"If you haven't figured it out by today you're in trouble," Kanaan said. "If it goes right, we have a pretty good chance. And if we do everything OK, I think we can get there.
"Whatever happens on Sunday, it's going to be up to us to make it happen."
Defending champion Takuma Sato of Japan will start 16th.
"Sometimes I struggle and I'm frustrated, but I do my job," Sato said. "Back in the car, I always enjoy."
Bourdais, 39, is back after a horrific qualifying crash last year in the second turn when he had enough speed to take the pole. Instead he missed the 2017 race and much of the season.
This will be Bourdais' best starting spot in seven Indy 500 starts with his best finish seventh in 2014.
Asked if this was his best chance to win the Indy 500, Bourdais replied, "No, that was last year."