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Danica Makes History with Daytona 500 Pole

Jonathan Ferrey, Getty Images

Danica Patrick, known as much for her good looks as her driving ability, became the first woman to sit on the pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, setting fast time for the 55th running of the Daytona 500. Her top speed of 196.434 mph is nearly two seconds faster than last year’s pole setter, Carl Edwards.

Patrick, who started her career as an Indy car driver, spend last season racing full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Her pole position at Daytona is the best start for a female in the Cup Series since Janet Guthrie started 9th at both Bristol and Talladega in 1977. The last female to start on the pole of a NASCAR race was Shawna Robinson, earned the top starting spot in a Busch Series race at Atlanta in 1994.

But starting on the pole doesn’t guarantee you a good finish in the race. The last pole sitter to win The Great American Race was Dale Jarrett, who claimed the pole and the victory in 2000. Three-time 500 winner Jeff Gordon will start outside on the front row, with the rest of the starting lineup to be determined by the finishing order of the Budweiser Duels to be held Thursday afternoon. Positions 3 through 32 are decided by the races finishing order while the remainder of the field is rounded out by 2012 owner points.

The new Gen-6 car seemed to perform very well in the Sprint Unlimited this past Saturday night. Kevin Harvick took the win in his Budweiser Chevrolet SS. Things be different at Daytona this year, as defending race winner Matt Kenseth will be piloting a new car, the Home Depot Toyota, formerly driven by Joey Logano. Interestingly, Kenseth’s old ride, the #17 Ford Fusion, is driven by rookie Ricky Stenhouse, Jr…who is also dating Danica Patrick.

WFNT 1470 AM will carry the race live beginning this Sunday, Feb. 24th at noon and on the internet at wfnt.com.

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