Baby, you can drive my car

Danica Patrick never once flinched in the white gauze of the spotlight Sunday.A symphony in flamboyance, she showed plenty of pluck and grit in finishing fourth in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500.Of course, everybody fell in love with the 23-year-old rookie and this time it wasn’t because of her flowing black hair and photogenic features.Rather, 300,000 people at Indy and millions watching on ABC echoed with thumping heartbeats alternating between stiletto and hatchet as Patrick made the strongest showing by a woman in the storied race’s 89-year history.In an unforgiving sport in which brave souls race at supersonic speeds all the while knowing that metal and flesh can be reduced to poisonous ash in the twinkling of a panicked eye, Patrick flashed fireworks in her eyes and displayed an indomitable will in her heart. Yes, she’s a sexy woman. But she’s also a thoroughbred behind the wheel — strong, fast and elegant.While America and the world had their throats gulp into their mouths, Danica courageously and miraculously overcame two rookie miscues.In so doing, she not only became the first woman to lead a lap at Indy, but she had the lead with a mere 10 laps to go. For fleeting moments, the Earth stopped spinning on its axis.Global emotions definitely were dancing the Bulgarian polka as we all screamed: Can she do it?Alas, her crew had gambled that she could make to the end of the 200-lap race when she took the lead on lap 172 when everyone in front of her pitted.And in the dramatic final laps that somehow seemed to be moving in terrifying slow motion despite speeds in excess of 200 mph,, she couldn’t run at full power, eventually sliding back to fourth as her fuel tank grew agonizingly drier than an empty promise. Had she taken the checkered flag, the marketing aftershocks hardly would have been baleful. No matter. Sprinkle her with stardust because she already glitters like jewel box awash in moonlight.You can wager we will be seeing plenty of her charismatic sun-kissed profile.