Danica Patrick all smiles in visit to South Bend

One of the world's most famous IndyCar drivers, Danica Patrick, visited South Bend on Thursday to meet and greet a group that truly helps her.

Patrick was at the Tire Rack in South Bend, which produces the Firestone tires used by Patrick and Andretti Green racing.

The meet and greet session was open only to Tire Rack employees and their families. Tire Rack has around 250 employees, but there were more than 600 people in line to meet Patrick.

Patrick took a break from her autograph session to join us live on Newscenter 16 at 6.

Danica is a pioneer in the racing world, becoming the first woman to ever win an IndyCar race last season. She says she's asked all the time what it is like to be a woman in a male dominated sport.

Her answer---she's not sure what it's like to be a male in a male dominated sport. She says she just doesn't really look at herself as a girl when racing, but just as any other competitor.

At the same time, she understands she is a role model and she appreciates being able to be that for young girls.

Danica says it's nice going into a season without having to worry about 'never having won a race.' She says she still will have the intensity she had last year, but that the pressure of answering the same question is at least out of way.

And there is nothing she is looking forward to more than the Indy 500 on May 24th.

Above all, Patrick was excited to meet so many fans and to be able to thank many of the people that support her.

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