Danica Patrick has made history, but don’t call her the fastest woman in the race. Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole on Feb. 17, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR's premier circuit, according to a Feb. 18 Associated Press report, which calls this the biggest achievement of her career to date.
Patrick said she thrives in the spotlight. “I think when pressure's on and when the spotlight's on, I feel like it ultimately ends up becoming some of my better moments and my better races and better results,”Patrick said. “I just understand that if you put the hard work in before you go out there that you can have a little peace and a little peace of mind knowing that you've done everything you can and just let it happen.”
The Daytona 500 star is reportedly the first woman to lead laps in the Indiapolis 500, finishing third in 2009 and becoming the only woman to win an IndyCar race in 2008. Her Daytona pole win was at 196.434 mph around the Daytona International Speedway.
Four-time champion Jeff Gordon was the only one who came close to defeating Danica and had this to say of his tough competitor. “It's great to be a part of history with Danica being on the pole,” said Gordon, reportedly joking that at least he was the fastest guy. “I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport. Congratulations to her. Proud to be on there with her.”
“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick said. “That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning. Then I feel like thriving in those moments, where the pressure's on, has also been a help for me. I also feel like I've been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don't think any of it would have been possible without that.”
She continued, “For those reasons, I've been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope that I don't stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make. We are excited to do it.”
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