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Danica Patrick Wins Pole For Daytona 500

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 17 2013

Danica Patrick made history on Sunday. (RacinToday/HHP file photo by Gregg Ellman)

Danica Patrick made history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to win a pole in the Sprint Cup Series. And that pole will be for NASCAR’s biggest race – next Sunday’s Daytona 500.

Patrick’s fast lap was at 196.434 mph. Her lap around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway oval took 45.817 seconds.

Jeff Gordon, also driving a Chevrolet, was second fastest at 196.292 mph.

Trevor Bayne was third in a Ford while Ryan Newman, Patrick’s teammate at Stewart-Haas Racing was fourth. Fifth was Tony Stewart.

Patrick will start next weekend’s race on the pole and Jeff Gordon on the outside pole. After that, starting positions will be determined by times today and results of the dual qualifying races to be held on Thursday.

“Everything went smooth,” Patrick said. “This is very much a moment to talk about being proud of the guys who prepare the car. For us drivers, it’s very important for us to hit your shifts, and be smooth, and all that out there. But, there is a certain amount of speed that the car has as potential, and that is what you are getting to. As far the GoDaddy crew, Hendrick for the power and Chevy with the car, those are the elements that are really important. The driver plays a part, but a small part.”

Patrick down played the historical aspect of the day.

“Those are nice things. That’s nice. I think more than anything, I heard a stat yesterday, that getting the pole at Daytona is like winning the fourth biggest race. For publicity wise it’s the Daytona 500, I think the Coke 600, the All Star Race, and then I think it is the Daytona 500 pole. For someone like GoDaddy who has been really patient waiting for me to get to full-time to Sprint Cup, it’s very important for someone like that. All the people that have been supportive along the way. For me that’s who it really pays off for.”

It was the fastest Daytona 500 pole-winning speed since 1990.

Patrick shattered the previous record for top starting spot by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Janet Guthrie previously held the mark, twice starting ninth in 1977. She started ninth at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, February 17 2013
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