By winning the Daytona 500 pole today, Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the top spot for any race in NASCAR’s premier circuit. Clocking in at 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph, today’s achievement is the biggest of Patrick’s stock-car career.
Danica Patrick at Daytona - Image © Stephen M. Dowell/MCT/ZUMAPRESS.com
(In case you haven't heard the term pole position before - and want to know what all the fuss is about - it's the driver's position at the front of the grid in the starting lineup. Grid position is usually determined by a qualifying session where drivers try to set the fastest lap which Patrick did in record-breaking fashion.)
Jeff Gordon was the only one to come close at 196 mph even. After the race he said: ”It’s great to be part of history, I can say I was the fastest guy today.” Patrick’s speed was 33 thousandths of a second faster than Gordon’s.
More importantly, Patrick’s run today means she doesn’t have to worry about Thursday’s qualifying races. Patrick, who is running full-time in the Sprint Cup Series for the first time in 2013, was potentially at risk of missing the race with a poor performance on Thursday.
Patrick seems to be starting the season off on the right foot. Hopefully she can get the big win that fans have been waiting for. Win or lose, her qualifying effort guarantees to keep her in the spotlight this week as NASCAR gears up for for the most famous race of the season.
With so much of the media attention over the past few weeks on Patrick’s relationship with fellow driver and Rookie of the Year contender Ricky Stenhouse, it’s nice to see the attention she’s getting based on her success on the track rather than her love life.
Despite lots of talk to the contrary, Patrick proved today she’s the real deal. Now, let’s see if she can capitalize on her historic performance.
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