There is no doubt that Danica Patrick is the center of attention this week at Daytona International Speedway as she prepares to lead the 43-driver field to the green flag Sunday in the Daytona 500. Patrick talked Friday at a media briefing about the impact that history-making event is having on race fans, including the daughters of some NASCAR stars.
Patrick has inspired a new generation of young girls, some that may not have known much about NASCAR before this week. She has also grabbed the attention of some very special girls who have spent their young lives at NASCAR tracks.
“I mean that is three pretty big drivers that have little girls that wanted to meet me that is very flattering,” Patrick said Friday. “I don’t know, but I think you can only lead by example and I don’t necessarily want my example to be to step outside the box and be a girl in a guy’s world. That is not what I’m trying to say, but, if you have a talent for something to not be afraid to follow through with it and not feel different. Not feel like you are less qualified or less competent to be able to do the job because you are different is to ignore that and let it be about what you potential is.”
Although many may doubt that Patrick can follow up her qualifying laps with a win in the Daytona 500, her crew chief Tony Gibson is not one of them. Gibson has every confidence that Patrick has a shot at winning NASCAR’s biggest race.
“I have 100 percent confidence in her skills and her ability,” Gibson said Friday while addressing media members at Daytona. “I’ve seen it just in the two races we did last year. We were sitting there running 11th or 12th in Phoenix on the lead lap and running with guys I never dreamed we’d be running with. So, she’s got the talent and she’s got the ability and she’s already proven in the Nationwide Series, from what I’ve seen, on the speedway stuff she definitely gets the respect and people know she’s fast. She can draft. She knows how the air works. She gets a lot of that from IndyCar. So I have 100 percent confidence that she can win the Daytona 500.”
When Patrick takes the green flag on Sunday, little girls in motor homes at Daytona Beach and in front of TV sets across the country will be wearing GoDaddy green and following the progress of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing GoDaddy Chevrolet. They will also realize that not just a girl, but a pretty good driver, has just led the field to the green flag for the 55th running of the Daytona 500.