Danica Patrick, who has been making headlines recently thanks to her relationship with fellow Cup Series rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., made more headlines Sunday afternoon, becoming the first woman in Cup Series history to win the pole for a race – making it even more special, it’s for the Daytona 500.
Patrick, driving the No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevy for Stewart-Haas Racing, took home the Coors Light Pole Award with a lap of 196.434 mph (45.817 seconds) around the 2.5-mile superspeedway, where she also earned the pole for last year’s season-opening Nationwide Series race.
“I think that says a lot about the team, a lot about Stewart-Haas Racing, a lot about how much work was done over the winter and how they’ve adapted to the new car,” said Patrick on NASCAR.com. “This is very much a team pole.”
The previous best start for a woman in the Cup Series was 18th, posted by Janet Guthrie for the Daytona 500 in 1980. Shawna Robinson is the only other woman to win a Nationwide Series pole, at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1994.
Last season, Patrick finished 10th in Nationwide Series points, the highest-ever points finish by a woman in NASCAR’s national series. In 2011, she recorded a fourth-place finish at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the highest finish by a woman in a NASCAR national series.
Patrick is the first rookie to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson in 2002.
“We're proud for her, too,” said team owner Tony Stewart. “That's a huge accomplishment. It's not like it's been 15 or 20 years she's been trying to do this. It's her second trip to Daytona here in a Cup car. She's made history in the sport. That's stuff that we're proud of being a part of with her. It's something she should have a huge amount of pride in. It's never been done. There's only one person that can be the first to do anything. Doesn't matter how many do it after you do, accomplish that same goal. The first one that does always has that little bit more significance to it because you were the first.”
Jeff Gordon (196.292 mph/45.850 seconds) starts next to Patrick on the front row for the race on Sunday, February 24th – the only two secure spots in the field. The rest of the field will be set on Thursday, February 21st with the running of the Gatorade Duels. Follow the action at www.nascar.com.
Some quotes in this piece provided by NASCAR.
Check out Paula’s Examiner columns on motorsports:
Follow Paula on:
- Facebook – Paula Thompson Freelance and Examiner.com Motorsports
- Twitter - @paulat14
- Website – paulathompsonfreelance.com
- Flickr – Paula Thompson Freelance
Contact Paula at firstname.lastname@example.org