She will finish 30 in the race, which will be her career worst at the 2.5-mile track. He's been chasing that mark since 2010 and has finished second three times, including a year ago when he was beaten by Takuma Sato, the first Japanese victor in race history.
More than 150 fans sought treatment at the infield medical center at Indianapolis Motor Speedway for heat-related problems Sunday.
On the one hand, he was overjoyed about leading a career-best 65 laps and dominating long stretches of the race at his beloved speedway, which stands within sight of the home where he grew up.
"I didn't feel like it was too hot", veteran Scott Dixon said.
"I've been saying the last few days there's a difference between the beginning, when I signed up for it - I was hopeful it would go well - there's a difference between where it is now", Patrick told reporters, via Fox News.
"She's done a great job getting up to speed, not making mistakes".
The only woman to win an IndyCar race and start from pole at the Daytona 500, the 36-year-old American announced last November that she had reached the end of the road and would bring the curtain down on her ground-breaking career with the "Danica Double" contesting the Daytona and Indy 500s.
At the 2007 Milwaukee Mile, unhappy about a late race encounter with the late Dan Wheldon, Patrick climbed out of her auto and marched down the pit lane where she confronted the Briton, grabbed him by the arm and then shoved him. Penske needed him in sports cars this year so he moved Castroneves out of IndyCar but promised him a seat in the race for a shot at that fourth jug of milk.
"These are things you're actually glad for", Patrick said.
Rather than being an advocate for women's causes, Patrick prefers to inspire. She admitted she was nervous. I've never overlooked it.
"I've never been a driver that wants a mentor", said Patrick. Hinchcliffe won on his turn from that lane.
Hinchcliffe was trying to salvage something out of his heartbreaking week. The Canadian was uncomfortable asking another driver to give up his seat for him, and he was determined to show strong sportsmanship during this setback in his odd history with Indy.
Scott Dixon, the 2008 Indy 500 victor, was second on the Carb Day practice speed chart with a lap of 225.684 miles per hour in the No. 9 PNC Bank Chip Ganassi Racing Honda.
Even without Hinchcliffe, the race still has celebrity appeal. But anything is possible this year, including temperatures in the 90s that could make it the hottest Indy 500 in history.
The Indy 500 will start Sunday at 12:19 p.m. ET on ABC.
The drivers aren't sure what to predict and have no idea what kind of race it will be. "Saving this? Saving that?"
"I'm here largely because I am woman", she said.