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Danica Patrick Makes History by Being the First Woman to Win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Pole

February 17th, 2013 at 7:28 PM
By Mark Eddinger

On Sunday at Daytona International Speedway, Danica Patrick did something no woman had done before: she became the first woman in NASCAR history to win a Sprint Cup Series pole. She turned a lap of 196.434 mph in her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet to grab the pole position for the 55th running of the Daytona 500.

'IMG_3428' photo (c) 2012, Parker Anderson - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/

Jeff Gordon will start second in the 500 next Sunday in the familiar Hendrick Motorsports No. 24 Chevrolet by being the second fastest car in qualifying. Patrick and Gordon are the only two cars guaranteed their starting position for the Daytona 500.

“I appreciate the recognition, but I think it falls 90 percent on Tony (crew chief Tony Gibson) and his guys who give me the cars and maybe 10 percent on me,” Patrick said. “I think it shows how well-prepared Tony and everybody was and how strong the Hendrick engines are and how good the new [Chevrolet] SS is.”

Danica Patrick broke the previous best female qualifying effort in the Sprint Cup Series of ninth, which was set by Janet Guthrie in 1977 at Talladega and Bristol.

Four more drivers locked themselves into the Daytona 500 on Sunday with their qualifying speed, although they do not know exactly where they will start until after the Budweiser Duel races on Thursday. Those four drivers are Trevor Bayne, Ryan Newmah , Tony Stewart, and Kasey Kahne.

Seven more drivers know that they cannot miss the Daytona 500 no matter what happens at the Duel qualifying races on Thursday. These seven driver are Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr, Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, and Kurt Busch.

Gordon was happy to be the fastest guy on Sunday.

“I’m proud to be part of the history and to be on the front row with Danica,” Gordon said. “We all know how popular she is and what this will do for our sport.”

The rest of the 55th Daytona 500 starting lineup will be decided on Thursday. The highest 15 finishers in each Duel race, excluding Patrick and Gordon, will earn a spot in the Daytona 500, between third and 32nd.  Positions 33 to 36 will go to the four fastest cars from qualifying that do not earn a spot in the Duel races. Positions 37 to 42 will go to provisional positions based on 2012 owners points. The final 43rd starting spot will either go to a past Cup Series champion or the next car in the 2012 owners' points if there are no past champions eligible.
 
The official 55th Daytona 500 starting lineup will be set on Thursday, February 21st on SPEED at 2 p.m. ET with the running of the Budweiser Duel races.
Tags: Brad Keselowski, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick, daytona 500, Daytona International Speedway, Denny Hamlin, Janet Guthrie, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Motorsports, NASCAR, ricky stenhouse jr, Sprint Cup Series, Trevor Bayne

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