Simona De Silvestro, the only woman in the 23-car field for Sunday's Atlantics Championship season opener, earned her first win in the Champ Car developmental series.
Less than 24 hours after Danica Patrick became the first woman to win an IndyCar race, the 19-year-old De Silvestro joined Katherine Legge as the only female winners in Atlantics.
Legge, who went on to drive two years in Champ Car, won three times in 2005, including a victory at Long Beach.
"Danica wins, I win, it's a perfect weekend," the Swiss driver said with a grin.
De Silvestro, whose best previous finish in 12 Atlantic starts last year was seventh, took advantage of a mistake by pole-winner Jonathan Bomarito in Sunday's 38-lap event on the streets of downtown Long Beach.
Bomarito pulled away from the field at the start and built a lead of more than 7.5 seconds before he spun on lap 23 while all alone on the track. By the time the driver from Monterey, Calif., got going again, De Silvestro and several others had driven past.
De Silvestro said it would have been difficult to catch Bomarito, a four-time Atlantics winner, if he didn't make a mistake.
"He has a lot of experience," she explained. "He had better lap times than me and he drove away."
De Silvestro said the only trepidation she felt after taking the lead was the restarts following a pair of full-course caution flags.
"I was a little nervous," she said. "I've never started with a full pack behind me that would try to pass me. But it was pretty smooth."
De Silvestro went on to beat Alan Sciuto from nearby Orange, Calif., by 1.285 seconds.
"She was very consistent, very strong," Sciuto said. "I wasn't going to catch her."
He was followed by Canadian driver Kevin Lacroix, De Silvestro's Newman Wachs Racing teammate Jonathan Summerton, coming off a victory last week in the A1GP race in Shanghai and making his Atlantics debut, and Bomarito.
De Silvestro, who drove for Walker Racing last year, said she went through a big learning curve as a rookie.
"I was a little immature and I did a lot of mistakes myself," she said. "You really need a year like that to learn from your mistakes. Over the winter, I worked a lot on my condition and a lot on my head. Last year, I think I was always trying too much and thinking too much. This year, I'm really calmed down and focused."
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