Danica Patrick secured her first ever Daytona 500 pole and became the first woman to capture a pole in NASCAR’s top series.
30-year-old Patrick had already set several historic benchmarks for women in racing, including the only woman to win an IndyCar race, the highest finish of any female in the Indianapolis 500 (third), the highest finish of any female in a NASCAR national touring series race (fourth) and the highest season-ending finish of any female in a NASCAR national touring series (10th).
“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl. That was instilled in me from the very young, from the beginning. . … 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 was quoted by Sporting News.
However, Danica Patrick is aware that winning a pole at Daytona often tests the limits of the car and not the driver’s expertise. All a driver has to do is keep the gas pedal pressed to the floor the entire lap and concentrate on hitting their marks just right over the 2.5 miles around Daytona International Speedway.
“I appreciate the recognition, but it really falls 90 percent on Tony and his guys, everybody that gives me the car to go out there and be fast and maybe 10 percent on me,” Patrick said about her Stewart-Haas team. Patrick, who was also fastest in practice Saturday, turned a lap of 196.434 mph to win the pole Sunday by 0.142 mph (0.033 seconds) over four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon.