Danica Patrick wins Daytona 500 pole

History was made in more way than one Sunday afternoon at Daytona International Speedway.

For the first time in the 54-year history of the Daytona 500, a woman will lead the field to the green flag after Danica Patrick won the pole position for next Sunday’s 55th running of the Daytona 500.

Patrick also becomes the first woman in the history of what is now known as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series to win a pole position. Until today, the best qualifying effort by a woman driver was set by Janet Guthrie back in 1977 with a ninth place start.

Being the eighth of 45 cars to make their timed laps in qualifications for next Sunday’s race, Patrick knocked her car owner, Tony Stewart, from the provisional pole early on.

After her lap circling the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway in 45.817 seconds, Patrick was forced to sit and wait for over two hours as the rest of the field tried to knock her off the top spot.

While many tried, only Jeff Gordon was the real threat to Patrick’s time; missing her mark by 0.03 seconds.

“I’m proud of all the hard work that goes into making a pole car,” said Patrick after the qualifying session was complete.

“It’s not just turning left, it’s so many other things. It’s all of the attention to detail that [the crew] puts in over the winter. I can’t be more proud of them.”

Patrick’s lap of 196.434 mph is the second-fastest lap turned in the restrictor plate era (1988-present) at Daytona since Ken Schrader’s lap of 196.996 mph back in 1989.

During yesterday’s practice sessions, the No.10 Chevrolet of Patrick was third-fastest in the first and quickest in the final, making her the odds-on favorite to win the pole.

“I didn’t think anyone else had a shot,” said Gordon who still start alongside Patrick for next Sunday’s race.

“It’s big for the sport. I’m excited to be on the front row with Danica.

Patrick and Gordon are the only two drivers with their starting positions set for next Sunday’s Daytona 500. The rest of the starting field will be set based on the results of Thursday’s Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying races.

Daytona 500 qualifying results: 

  1. Danica Patrick 
  2. Jeff Gordon
  3. Trevor Bayne
  4. Ryan Newman
  5. Tony Stewart
  6. Kasey Kahne
  7. Denny Hamlin
  8. Kyle Busch
  9. Joey Logano
  10. Matt Kenseth
  11. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
  12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
  13. Juan Pablo Montoya
  14. Paul Menard
  15. Casey Mears
  16. Austin Dillon
  17. Carl Edwards
  18. Clint Bowyer
  19. Martin Truex Jr.
  20. Jeff Burton
  21. Jimmie Johnson
  22. Jamie McMurray
  23. Brad Keselowski
  24. Marcos Ambrose
  25. Kevin Harvick
  26. Aric Almirola
  27. Greg Biffle
  28. Mark Martin
  29. David Gilliland
  30. David Ragan
  31. Michael Waltrip
  32. Josh Wise
  33. Kurt Busch
  34. Michael McDowell
  35. Scott Speed
  36. Terry Labonte
  37. Regan Smith
  38. Dave Blaney
  39. Bobby Labonte
  40. JJ Yeley
  41. David Reuitmann
  42. Travis Kvapil
  43. Joe Nemechek
  44. Mike Bliss
  45. Brian Keselowski

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