February, 18 2013
Danica Patrick took the Daytona 500 pole position on Sunday to make US sporting history by becoming the first woman in NASCAR Sprint Cup series race history to earn the top spot.
Patrick, coming out in eighth during the qualifying session, took the pole with an imperious lap time of 196.434 mph, with three-time Daytona 500 champ, Jeff Gordon, the only driver to come close to topping her.
“I've been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really hope that I don't stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make. We are excited to do it,” said Patrick.
"This is a pretty big stage. A lot of people win more so than ever with this one because of the big platform that it is. It's a cool day. I've been very blessed in my career to have had a lot of really, really cool days.”
Patrick, 30, is no stranger to firsts and achievements. She was the first female to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, finishing third in the 2009 race to earn the highest Indy 500 finish for a woman. In Japan in 2008, Patrick became the only woman to win an IndyCar race.
In 2011, Patrick scored her first and only career top-five finish when she took fourth at Las Vegas Motor Speedway to become the best finish by a female in NASCAR’s top three touring divisions.
This is Patrick's second NASCAR pole, after winning the top position for the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona last year.
The previous best starting position for a female in the Daytona 500 was 18th by Janet Guthrie in 1980.
This is Patrick’s first full season in NASCAR’s top flight, so be sure to look out for her No. 10 Chevrolet SS at next weekend’s 55th annual Daytona 500 we will be seeing a lot of her this season!