Danica Patrick will race into the sunset with her retirement from auto racing after Sunday's Indianapolis 500, and one of the first items on her agenda will be breaking down gender barriers in a decidedly less-competitive venue: the ESPYs.
Patrick, 36, revealed the news that she will be the first female host of ESPN's midsummer awards show Tuesday on "The Tonight Show."
"My first ESPYS was 2005, and I have been a fan, coming back every year since," Patrick told ESPN. "It is the biggest night of the year for sports. Every year, I leave feeling so inspired! I am excited to be able to help celebrate, laugh and cry about the past year in sports with everyone. It's going to be a great night and one full of more than a few surprises."
Patrick is the only woman to lead laps in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500 and won the pole for NASCAR's grandest race in 2013. But her 2008 IndyCar win in Japan remains her lone auto-racing victory, and she never scored a top 5 finish in a NASCAR event. She qualified seventh for Sunday's race at the Brickyard in Indianapolis, her first Indianapolis 500 since 2011. Earlier this year, Patrick ended her NASCAR career with a 35th-place finish at the Daytona 500 after getting taken out in a six-car wreck on Lap 102.
An entertainer usually hosts the ESPYs, though Peyton Manning did it last year and LeBron James and Lance Armstrong also have taken turns. Patrick has ample experience in front of a camera, having appeared on numerous TV shows and anchored many commercials.
This year's show is July 18 in Los Angeles.