Danica Patrick Wins Pole for NASCAR's Daytona 500

NASCAR racer marks biggest moment in her career

By Newser Editors and Wire Services

Posted Feb 17, 2013 3:28 PM CST

(Newser) – Danica Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole today, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race. It was the biggest achievement of her four-year NASCAR career. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session and covered the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph. "Hopefully, there are good things to come," Patrick said.

She waited about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot. Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off. Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500. "It's great to be part of history," Gordon said. "I can say I was the fastest guy today."

Danica Patrick checks out her car during a practice session for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Danica Patrick checks out her car during a practice session for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Feb. 16, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla.   (Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Danica Patrick removes her earplugs after driving during practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 16, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Danica Patrick removes her earplugs after driving during practice for the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Feb. 16, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla.   (Phelan M. Ebenhack)
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