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02.18.13

Patrick Earns a Historic Pole at a Premier Event

NASCAR - Daytona 500

If there was any question whether Danica Patrick could make an impact in Nascar’s premier Sprint Cup Series, the answer came Sunday with a performance that put her in the record books.

Patrick became the first woman to qualify on the pole for a Sprint Cup race, and she did it in stock car racing’s most prestigious event: the Daytona 500. Patrick turned a lap at 196.434 miles per hour in her No. 10 Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway to take the pole for next Sunday’s season-opening race. She will start alongside Jeff Gordon, who qualified second. The rest of the grid will be set in Thursday’s twin qualifying races.

“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.

“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.”

Patrick, 30, began racing in the IndyCar Series in 2005. She earned instant fame that season when she became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500; she finished fourth. She was the first woman to win an IndyCar Series race when she took the checkered flag at Motegi, Japan, in 2008.

Patrick began the transition to stock car racing in 2010 and committed full time to the sport in 2012. She raced in the lower-level Nationwide Series, in which she finished 10th in the standings, and she was voted the most popular driver of the series. She made her Cup debut in last year’s Daytona 500, starting 29th and finishing 38th.

Patrick was not locked into the field for this year’s Daytona 500 and might have missed the cut if she had to race her way in on Thursday. Winning the pole locks her into the field. Janet Guthrie had the previous record for the best start by a woman in the Cup series: she qualified ninth for two races in 1977.

“It’s great to be a part of history with Danica being on the pole,” Gordon said. “I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport.”

Patrick made clear she would challenge for the pole when she posted the fastest lap in practice Saturday. She drives for Stewart-Haas Racing, and her equipment is supplied by the powerhouse Hendrick Motorsports, which also supplies Gordon.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” said the team owner Tony Stewart, who placed all three of his team’s racecars in the top five, with Ryan Newman fourth and himself fifth. “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.”

 

Schuberth 1:2 Scale Replica Helmet


Danica fans! Now you can get your very own 1/2 size scale replica of the Schuberth SF1 helmet Danica Patrick is wearing in the NASCAR series. Features exact scale graphics, working face shield and D-ring chin strap.

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