Monday, 18 February 2013

Danica Patrick makes history at Daytona

Danica Patrick made history yesterday (17th February) by becoming not only the first woman to claim pole position for the Daytona 500, but becoming the first woman ever to claim pole position for any NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.

The Wisconsin native set a time of 45.817 seconds at a speed of 196.434 mph beating the likes of 4 time champion Jeff Gordon, 2011 Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne and team mates Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman to the top spot. Patrick had earlier set the pace in the second Saturday practice session after being third fastest in the earlier one.

Pole comes as a welcome distraction for the media in Danica's case after most of the week's attention had focused around her recently revealed relationship with fellow rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. However, she was quick to downplay the achievement stating “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”.

Despite being her first Sprint Cup pole, it's not Danica Patrick's first NASCAR pole. She claimed pole for the first Nationwide race of the season in 2012, again at Daytona International Speedway. 

Top 5 Danica Patrick Moments

Danica Patrick is often in the spotlight and always has a huge load of expectation on shoulders. She doesn't always live up to such expectations but she has shined on more than one occasion.


5 - 2012 DRIVE4COPD 300 Pole

Posting a speed of 182.741, Danica Patrick became only the second female driver to achieve a Nationwide pole position after Shawna Robinson in 1994. The first race of her first full time season in NASCAR racing, this was Patrick's fourth visit to Daytona. The pole was to be the high point of her weekend and she crashed out of the race, then crashed in the Daytona 500 two days later too.





4 - Indianapolis 500 Debut

Becoming the fourth woman to compete in the Indianapolis 500, Danica Patrick got everyone's attention back in 2005 by achieving the fastest practice speed of 229.88 mph for Indy Car's landmark event. She was unable to achieve pole position though, clinching fourth,  the highest ever starting position for a woman in the Indy 500. During the race she became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indy 500 but was unable to score a remarkable win after stalling in the pits and spinning during a caution period. She rallied back to clinch fourth place, finishing where she started.

Danica Patrick later went on to clinch rookie of the year honours in 2008 before achieving a higher finish in the Indy 500, crossing the line third in 2009.




3 - 2011 Sams Town 300

In 2011, Danica Patrick was combining her full time Indy Car commitment with competing part time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. A year similar to 2010 although for 2011 she obviously had the benefit of a little bit more stock car experience. Experience she put to good use in the Sams Town 300 at Las Vegas where she started in 22nd position and later fought back from two laps down to claim a landmark fourth place finish. The highest ever finish for any woman in any of the top three NASCAR series. It was also a vast improvement on her previous highest finish in the Nationwide Series which was 14th.




2 - 2013 Daytona 500 Pole Position

Many drivers will tell you that pole at Daytona is down to the car. However, there's no denying that Danica Patrick's pole position for the 2013 Daytona 500 is a big moment in her career. The pole was here first in the Sprint Cup and her second in overall NASCAR competition after clinching pole for the season opening Nationwide Series race in 2012, coincidentally also at Daytona.




1 - 2008 Indy Japan 300 Win

The stand out moment of Danica Patrick's career so far has to be her win in the 2008 Indy Japan 300 at Motegi. So far the only win in Indy Car racing for a woman, Patrick's breakthrough came in her 50th Indy Car start after her rivals dropped back in what became a fuel mileage race. After starting on the third row of the grind, she took the win by almost six seconds beating Helio Castroneves to the checkered flag.

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