~ 1st woman to win the Pole position for a Sprint Cup Series Race
~ 1st woman to lead laps in the Daytona 500
~ 2nd woman to lead laps in a Sprint Cup Series Race
~ Highest finish for a woman in a Sprint Cup Series Race at Daytona
~ 13th driver to lead laps in both the Indianapolis 500 and the Daytona 500
Those are all of the records that Danica Patrick either broke or bettered this past week at the Daytona 500. Those records don’t even include the ones she already holds in the Nationwide Series and the IndyCar Series.
Danica Patrick is a trailblazer in the racing industry and is an inspiration to young girls and even boys, everywhere. Crew Chief Tony Gibson talked on Friday about handing out more lug-nuts to little girls this week then he ever has before. The window looking into her garage stall was covered in so many messages and well wishes for Patrick that even she had to snap a picture of all of the hoopla with her iPhone. The pressure was on for Patrick but she didn’t care. In fact, she flourished in it.
In her first Indy 500 in 2005, Danica Patrick was the favorite to win the pole position. She missed it just slightly when she bobbled coming out of a turn but still qualified in the top 5. She went on later to lead 19 laps and finished fourth. This season, in the Daytona 500, she was the favorite to win the pole and did just that. She ran in the top 10 for all 500 miles, falling no lower than 11th. At lap 90, she took the lead from Michael Waltrip on a restart and led two laps, becoming the first woman to lead laps in the famed race. She was also the first woman to lead laps under green. Patrick led a total of five laps during the scheduled 200 and became the 13th driver to lead in both the Indianapolis 500 and Daytona 500, joining drivers like AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, Tony Stewart and more.
The hype that surrounded Danica this past week after winning the pole position was unbelievable. According to GoDaddy (via Terry Blount), from the minute she won the pole to February 19th, Danica was featured in 165 newspaper stories, 45 TV and radio shows and 466 websites. Her celebrity status stretches far beyond the racing community and that was evident this past week when some starting calling the race the Danica 500. It was announced today that in the 24 hours following the end of the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick was mentioned 42.6% more on TV, in print and Internet articles than race winner Jimmie Johnson. When the ratings for the Daytona 500 were finally released, it confirmed what many had already expected, a rise. Up 24% from 2012, the 2013 Daytona 500 was the most watched 500 since 2008. It’s no secret that the rise in viewers was thanks in part to Danica Patrick and the way the networks used her history making pole win in their advertisements.
During her multiple news conferences and interviews after capturing the pole, there was always one thing that Danica never wavered from; the kids. She hopes that when kids see her out on the track, they ask their parents about her. She hopes that she can help start the conversation that helps kids realize that they can do anything they set their mind to, even if they are different. And that doesn’t just apply to young children either, anyone can follow her example.
“You can only lead by example and I don’t necessarily want my example to step outside the box and be a girl in a guy’s world. That’s not what I am trying to say,” Patrick said. “But if you have a talent for something, do not be afraid to follow through with it and not feel different. Do not feel like you are less qualified or less competent to be able to do the job because you are different. Ignore that and let it be about what your potential is.”
Danica Patrick is definitely taking the NASCAR world by storm, and we are only on week two. After the race, those drivers that raced in the top 10 were asked if they raced Danica any differently. “It was a car on the track,” Jimmie Johnson said. “I didn’t think of it as Danica. It was just another car that was fast.” He wasn’t the only one who thought that. Second place finisher Dale Earnhardt Jr said that she is just another racer but that “she will be making history all year long. “ (http://sports.yahoo.com/news/danica-patrick-leaves-her-family-beaming-with-pride-after-history-making-daytona-500-005828716.html)
Her parents, TJ and Bev Patrick, couldn’t be more proud of their little girl. Watching the race with her husband and Danica’s younger sister Brooke, Bev was nervous saying, “I thought my heart was going to pound out of my chest,” but Brooke never had any doubts that her sister couldn’t handle the pressure. “With Danica, she does better when the pressure is on,” Brooke said. “I think it just shows the kind of driver she is; there’s a reason she keeps breaking these records.”
So as we move on to Phoenix this weekend, all eyes will be on Danica Patrick as she takes on the track for the second time in the Cup car. Will she have a finish like she did in Daytona? No, probably not. But one thing is for certain, for every Danica critic, there is a Danica fan and for every doubter, a believer but for Danica’s family, none of their daughter’s or sister’s success came as a surprise because they knew she could do it all along.
History has been made and NASCAR has been brought into the national limelight as Danica Patrick clinches the Pole position for the
55th running of the Daytona 500. As Daytona Speedweeks kicked off with NASCAR Media Day on Valentine’s Day, it was no secret that Danica was going to be in most of the headlines as the 2013 season kicked off.
NASCAR Media Day started with Danica Patrick. A full forty five minutes before she was slated to speak, journalists of all mediums were lined up around her GoDaddy director’s chair. The first dozen or so questions that were thrown her way had nothing to do with racing, but her personal life instead. A good portion of the interviews she did on Media Day had to do with her new beau, fellow Rookie of the Year Contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Patrick and Stenhouse announced a few weeks ago that they were in fact dating but that it wouldn’t affect their Sprint Cup season.
When you are dating a fellow driver, especially one who is constantly in the media, the attention is also going to turn to you. That is one thing Patrick said that Stenhouse will have to get used to. After being asked about what he thought of all the attention, she replied,
“A little while back he was talking about not wanting people to look at him or stare at him and I was like, ‘You better get used to that, because
there’s going to be a lot of people looking at you.’ He said, ‘No they’re not, they’re going to be looking at you.’ And I said, ‘No they’re not, they’re going to be looking at you as well.’ ”
Stenhouse may be the 2-time reigning Nationwide Series Champion, but he definitely doesn’t get the attention his new girlfriend does.
Patrick and Stenhouse weren’t the only ones asked about their personal lives. Fellow Sprint Cup drivers were also asked about the Rookie’s relationships. Most said that they didn’t think it would affect them on the track at all and that the publicity was good for the sport. Others disagreed. Reigning Sprint Cup Champion Brad Keselowski thinks that the bigger story is going to come when they break up. No matter what way you look at it, the fact that Danica Patrick and Ricky Stenhouse Jr are in a romantic relationship is going to be the talk of the track for many weeks to come.
It was also announced during NASCAR Media Day that Danica Patrick would be running in the No. 34 Chevrolet for Turner Scott Motorsports in
the Nationwide opener, the COPD 300. GoDaddy will sponsor COPD Ambassador Patrick as she hits the track this Saturday. In 2012, she became only the second woman to win the pole in NASCAR’s second tier. Can she start from the pole again this year in the COPD 300? We have to wait until Saturday to find out.
Daytona 500 practice started on Saturday and it was no surprise to see Patrick at the top of the board for most of the first session. Back in January, during Daytona Winter Testing, it was obvious that Patrick had a fast car. Crew Chief Tony Gibson and his crew definitely know how to put together speedway monster. She held the top spot in first practice Saturday until the bitter end where Joey Logano and Austin Dillon bumped her to third. A few hours later, Patrick took one mock qualifying run in second practice and ended at the top of the charts; the only car over 196mph. Drivers and Owners across the board said that Patrick was going to be the one to beat for the Daytona 500 Pole. Hendrick Motorsports Owner Rick Hendrick even went as far as calling her magical.
Pole Day was one for the history books. Going out early, all eyes were on Danica Patrick and her No. 20 GoDaddy.com team. It was make it or break it this year for the 500. The GoDaddy team had to qualify towards the top in order to guarantee Patrick a spot in the race. Well, she
definitely won’t have to worry about not making it in. Danica Patrick will be starting from the pole position in the 2013 Daytona 500.
Patrick is the first woman to start from the pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The highest qualifying position for a female prior was 9th by Janet Guthrie in 1977. Patrick’s only real competition seemed to be Jeff Gordon who starts beside her. She was .142mph faster than Gordon. At the Pole Award Ceremony, Gordon asked Patrick if she would be willing to take a picture with a fan of hers, Gordon’s 5 year old daughter Ella. Patrick happily obliged.
The media has, to say the least, gone crazy since Patrick took the pole position. In her press conference after the ceremony, Patrick turned the credit away from her and towards her Crew Chief Tony Gibson and his team.
“I appreciate the recognition, but it really falls 90 percent on Tony and his guys, everybody that gives me the car to go out there and be fast,” Patrick said, “and maybe 10 percent on me.”
Gibson knows that working with a rookie is going to have its challenges, but he isn’t just working with any rookie. All eyes will be on him and his
No. 10 team this season. He knows that she isn’t going to take the NASCAR world by storm right away; it’s going to take time.
“I told her, ‘We know there’s going to be low points, but the key to success for us is to enjoy the highs and pat each other on the back and enjoy it. When we hit our lows, pick each other up and get to the next one,” Gibson said. “Right now we’re enjoying this and it’s real big for me. I’ve accomplished a lot of things, but this ranks up there in the top two or three.”
One thing is for sure, Danica Patrick isn’t just doing this for herself, she is doing this for little girls out there who might just be watching.
“It’s … nice to hear families talk about the fact that a little girl might say, ‘But, mommy, daddy, that’s a girl out there,’” Patrick said. “Then they can have the conversation with their kid about you can do anything you want and being different doesn’t by any means not allow you to follow your dreams. I love to think that conversation happens in households because of something I’m doing.”
It’s no secret that Danica Patrick is taking racing to a new level, but she is also opening up doors for young women and little girls everywhere.
What is in store for one of the Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year contenders and NASCARs most recognizable and polarizing figure? Well, we are about to find out. Danica Patrick, making the jump to full time Sprint Cup Series after just one full and two part time seasons in the Nationwide Series, will have a lot on her plate in 2013.
After 7 seasons in the IndyCar circuit, Danica left after the 2011 season to pursue a career in Stock Cars. In 2005, the name “Danica Patrick” was known worldwide after she became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 in her Rookie year and eventually finished fourth, the highest finish for a woman. She would later go on to break her own record a few years later when she finished third in 2009. In 2008, she became the first woman to win an IRL sanctioned event when she won at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan. In her seven seasons in the series, she finished in the top-10 in points six times with her best being fifth. Although she may not have the wins to show for it, Danica was definitely one of the most competitive cars on the track, and that hasn’t changed in her trek into NASCAR.
In 2010, Danica got her first taste of stock cars running a partial Nationwide Series schedule for JR Motorsports and still competing full time in the IndyCar circuit. She did the same in 2011 but ultimately decided to move full time to NASCAR, leaving her IndyCar roots behind. Finishing tenth in the Nationwide Series standings last season, Danica’s results were anything but impressive, leaving many asking whether or not she was ready for the Cup series. Danica and the No. 7 GoDaddy team was one of a variety of teams that fell to bad luck. With crashed cars, blown tires and even running over a shoe, her results didn’t show how much she had really improved in 2012.
Also in 2012, Danica got her first taste of Sprint Cup Series racing when she signed with Stewart-Hass Racing. Driving the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy, team owner Tony Stewart selected ten of the toughest races on the schedule for Danica to run. With tracks like Daytona, Darlington, Dover and Bristol all making the list, Danica improved each weekend. In her final Cup start in Phoenix, she was wall on her way to a top 15 finish before hitting the wall and finishing 17th.
Like it or not, Danica will be taking on the big boys in the Sprint Cup Series this season. During the recent test session in Daytona, Danica was in the top-10 on the board the entire weekend, even leading most of the final morning session. Team owner Tony Stewart opted out of giving Danica his points in order to guarantee her a spot in the Daytona 500. He believes that she has the talent and ability to race in like everyone else. The first few races this season will be a telltale sign as to whether or not Danica is ready for Sprint Cup. All I can say is, move over boys, the lady is coming through.