DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Danica Patrick has made history before — as a woman and a racer, in Indianapolis and Japan.
The spotlight is nothing new. But never has it been this bright before. Patrick won the Daytona 500 pole Sunday, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any race in NASCAR’s premier circuit. It’s by far the biggest achievement of her stock-car career.
Her latest stamp in the history books came with a lap at 196.434 mph around Daytona International Speedway. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session, then had to wait 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 in qualifying.