Danica Patrick wins pole for NASCAR's Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Danica Patrick has won the Daytona 500 pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race.

It was the biggest achievement of her four-year NASCAR career.

"It is a big day for a lot of people, that is what is special about Daytona. It is not me being super-awesome, it is pretty straight-forward," Danica said.

Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session Sunday and covered the 2 1/2-mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph.

Patrick was asked in an interview how it felt to reflect on what she had achieved.

"It is cool, it is good. I hope the fans tune in and like what they see and keep watching. Hopefully it creates a nice dialog for kids and parents at home to see that no matter if you are a girl or boy, if you want to do something, you should go for it and find something like that you love to do," Patrick said.

She waited about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot. Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon even came close to knocking her off.

Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500. The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.

However the field unfolds, all drivers will line up behind Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet SS for "The Great American Race."

 

Follow Dave Furst on Twitter: @davefurst

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