Danica Patrick made NASCAR Sprint Cup Series history on Sunday by claiming the pole starting spot at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway for the Feb. 24 running of the Daytona 500. Her 45.817-second lap made her the first woman to ever claim a pole in the series.
“I can’t be more proud of them,” Patrick said of her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing team. “This is a fast Chevy.”
Patrick’s pole run followed a Saturday practice in which she turned in the fastest lap speed.
“They said if we could back up practice, we’d be good, and we were half-a-tenth faster,” Patrick said.
Jeff Gordon turned in a 45.850-second lap during the qualifying session to claim the other front row starting spot for next weekend’s race.
Only the top-two, or front row, spots on the Daytona 500 starting grid were set by Sunday’s pole qualifying session. The remainder of the 43-car field will be set following two Budweiser Duel races on Thursday afternoon.
Qualifying speeds on Sunday were used to set the starting order for those duel races. Patrick will start from the pole in the first duel race, with Trevor Bayne alongside in second. Bayne was third fastest in pole qualifying. Fifth-fastest in pole qualifying, Tony Stewart, will start third in the first duel.
Gordon will start in the top spot in the second duel on Thursday with fourth-place pole qualifier Ryan Newman next to him on the front row. Kasey Kahne, who was sixth-fastest on Sunday will start third in the second duel race.
The first Budweiser Duel race is expected to take the green flag just after 2 p.m. ET Thursday with the second to get underway shortly after the conclusion of the first.
– Photo courtesy of Getty Images for NASCAR
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