Danica Patrick made racing history on Sunday, becoming the first woman to win the coveted pole position for this year’s Daytona 500 in just her second season of racing NASCAR after years as an IndyCar driver.
“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick, 30, told CBS News. “That was instilled in my from very young, from the beginning.
“I’ve been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me,” Patrick said. “I don’t think any of it would have been possible without that.”
Patrick started in eighth position in qualifying rounds on Sunday, clocking her fastest lap at 196.434 mph in her No. 10 Chevrolet SS stock car at the Daytona International Speedway in Florida. Two hours and 37 other competitive drivers later, her time put her on top, letting her start the famed race, set for Feb. 24, in the most-coveted position.
Patrick posted photos of her Pole Award on her Facebook page. She crashed last year in her first Daytona 500 try.
Previously, the photogenic Patrick, who has modeled and directed TV ads, became the first woman to win an IndyCar race, when she led the pack in 2008 in Japan.
Her personal life faced scrutiny last year when she announced her split from husband Paul Hospenthal, 47, a physical therapist and personal training expert for golfers. The couple had been married for seven years.