DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. --- Blazing a trail that was previously paved by such pioneers as Janet Guthrie and Shawna Robinson, Danica Patrick set a new standard when she became the first woman in NASCAR history to win a pole position for a Sprint Cup race.
But it wasn’t just any race.
Patrick, 30, of Roscoe, Ill., claimed the pole position for NASCAR’s biggest race, the season-opening Daytona 500, when she turned a fast lap of 196.434 miles per hour in her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet fielded by Stewart-Haas Racing.
Patrick, a contender for Rookie of the Year honors, toured the high-banked, superspeedway at Daytona International Speedway in 45.817 seconds, tightly hugging the apron all away around the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
Asked what her overriding emotion was after accomplishing her historic feat, Patrick replied, “Pride. I’m proud of all the hard work that goes into making a pole car. It’s not just me turning laps, it’s so many other things. It’s all the attention to detail these guys put in over the winter. I can’t be more proud off them.”
Sharing the same Hendrick-developed power that put Patrick on the pole, Jeff Gordon earned a spot on the front row of the 43-car grid with his lap of 196.292 m.p.h.
“Congratulations to Danica, it’s great to be a part of history,” Gordon said, before adding with a chuckle. “At least, I can say I was the fastest guy today.”
Michael Vega can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.