NASCAR driver Danica Patrick announced Friday that she will be retiring from full-time racing in 2018, with the Daytona 500 and the Indianapolis 500 being her final two races.
With her career winding down, I thought it would be fun to take a look at one of her most impressive days on the track, and yes, it was a day her car couldn’t finish the race. Let me explain.
As part of ESPN‘s “My Wish” series, Patrick invited 18-year-old Gabrielle Jahn to Daytona International Speedway to ride shotgun with her.
The teen from Tomahawk, Wisconsin has a rare progressive neurological condition that affects her leg function and causes a great deal of pain. She has a pump implanted next to her spine so pain medications can be delivered more efficiently. Doctors say that eventually, she will need a wheelchair to get around.
Jahn is a huge racing fan, and her favorite driver is Patrick. So, when Jahn was surprised with a video message of Patrick inviting her to Daytona, she was in tears.
Jahn and her family traveled to Florida, where she had the chance to sit down with Patrick before the race and explain that her goal in life is to become a pediatric nurse. Then Jahn suited up and strapped on a helmet so she could sit next to her role model as they flew around the track. She was also by Patrick’s side at the start line and during driver introductions.
It wasn’t exactly Patrick’s day on the track. Her car went up in smoke, so she couldn’t finish the race. But, Jahn had another driver to root for — Patrick’s boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr. — who just happened to come in first place, which enabled Jahn to experience Victory Lane with Patrick and Stenhouse.
Here’s the full clip from ESPN:
Could a day like that get any better for Jahn? I don’t think so.
Nice “win,” Danica.