Danica Patrick struck a blow for equality in a male-dominated sport when she came close to becoming the first woman to win the Indianapolis 500.
Patrick's fourth place was the best finish by a woman in 89 years
The 23-year-old American led Sunday's prestigious race before finishing fourth behind Dan Wheldon, the first British winner of the race since 1966.
Patrick, who dropped down to 16th at one point and survived a six-car crash, stressed the importance of her finish.
"I made a hell of a point for anybody. I came from the back twice," she said.
"I stalled it and went back to 16th. I can't believe that my car didn't get completely demolished because I got hit twice and spun it around."
Ken Ungar - senior vice-president of business affairs for the Indy Racing League, of which the Indy 500 is the centrepiece - said Patrick's performance would have a positive impact on the sport.
"What something like Danica's performance does is help us through the clutter," he said.
"There's now so many competing demands on the American consciousness, she, along with our other drivers, will help."
The 5ft 1in American, who drives for the Rahal Letterman team, began her senior racing career in Europe, when she competed in Formula Ford for Haywood Racing.
Patrick, who was team-mate to Briton Anthony Davidson, finished second to the current BAR Formula One test driver in the 2000 Formula Ford Festival, the highest-ever finish for an American in the event.
Her drive at Indy earned her the Rookie of the Year award.
Public interest in Patrick has also grown, with ABC television in America recording the best ratings for the Indy 500 in nearly a decade.