Danica Patrick pole position at Daytona 500

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Danica Patrick pole position at the Daytona 500, sounds great to her fans doesn’t it. This is historic so I’ll say it again- Danica Patrick pole position. She became the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race, let alone the season-opening Daytona 500. So she’ll lead the field at the “The Great American Race” and NASCAR season opener. Yesterday, Patrick was nearly a second faster than the other driver in time trials.

The front row for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500 was set today. The rest of the field will be set next Thursday after a pair of qualifying races.

Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session Sunday and covered the 2½-mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph.

“Everything that we do is to make sure that we do whatever we can to be on the pole,” Patrick told the AP. “That is what we all are shooting for.”

This is by far the biggest achievement of her young NASCAR career.

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Finally, a reason for all the media at Daytona to talk about something other than Danica Patrick personal life. We’re talking about racing again instead of her divorce and boyfriend Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Patrick shattered the previous record for top starting spot by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Janet Guthrie previously held the mark, twice starting ninth in 1977. She started ninth at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.

The previous best starting position for a female in the Daytona 500 was 18th by Janet Guthrie in 1980.

This is Patrick’s second NASCAR pole, also winning the Coors Light Pole for the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona last season. The only other female to win a NASCAR national series pole was Shawna Robinson in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1994.

Already a NASCAR record holder, Patrick set the mark of best finish by a female driver in NASCAR national series history when she finished fourth in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in 2011. She finished 10th in the final 2012 NASCAR Nationwide points standings, the top finish by a female in NASCAR national series history.

Danica Patrick, who is running for the 2013 Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award, is the first rookie to win the Daytona 500 pole since Jimmie Johnson in 2002.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, a Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar, published author and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; he’s also a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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