It was a history-making day in Daytona for NASCAR beauty Danica Patrick, who won the pole at the Daytona 500 qualifying – becoming the first woman ever to claim Spring Cup’s top starting spot. E3 Spark Plugs sends congratulations.
This is isn’t the first of Patrick’s firsts for women in the racing profession. She’s was the first woman to lead a lap at the Indianapolis 500 in her 2005 debut, and the first woman to win a major closed-course auto race in a 2008 IndyCar Series event in Japan. She also boasts 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).
Patrick clocked the fastest in practice Saturday, turning a lap of 196.434 mph to win the pole Sunday by 0.142 mph (0.033 seconds) beating top competitor and four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon. But she gives much of the credit for her historic win to Stewart-Haas Racing crew chief Tony Gibson. That’s because the pole does more to test the limits of the car rather than the driver’s expertise. During the pole, a driver keeps the gas pedal to the floor for the entire lap and must focus on hitting precise marks over the 2.5 miles around the famed 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,” Patrick told reporters after the win, “and maybe 10 percent on me.”
Still, Patrick intends to keep on delivering all the firsts and bests she can – not just for women, but for all racers.
“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” she said. “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.”
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