Danica Patrick made NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history Sunday by becoming the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500, which will be run Feb. 24 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Fla.
Driving the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet as a member of the Stewart-Haas Racing team, Patrick won the pole position by tearing around the 2.5-mile track in 45.817 seconds. Her top speed of 196.434 mph is the fastest Daytona 500 qualifying speed since Ken Schrader’s Chevrolet covered the distance while topping out at 196.515 mph in 1990, NASCAR.com reported.
Before Patrick won the pole position, the best starting position for a woman in Sprint Cup Series history was ninth, which is where Janet Guthrie started at Talladega and Bristol, both in 1977.
Patrick was followed in qualifying by Jeff Gordon, 45.850 seconds, 196.292 mph; Trevor Bayne, 45.924 seconds, 195.976 mph; Ryan Newman, 45.931 seconds, 195.946 mph; and Tony Stewart, 45.936 seconds, 195.925 mph.
Both Newman and Stewart are Patrick's Stewart-Haas Racing teammates, and Stewart is a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion.