DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — In about 24 hours, Danica Patrick went from her biggest crash to her biggest moment in a stock car.
The former IndyCar star won the pole Friday for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona, becoming the first woman to secure the top qualifying spot in NASCAR’s second-tier series since Shawna Robinson at Atlanta on March 12, 1994.
It came a day after she wrecked on the final lap of a qualifying race for the Daytona 500.
“It’s a good turn of events,” Patrick said.
It also set off a flurry of Twitter traffic that included words such as “Dansanity,” “Danimosity,” “Danimite,” and “Dantastic.”
“I really don’t think about it from a girl perspective,” she said with her proud parents standing a few yards away. “I’ve been taught from a young age to want to be the best driver. … It was about being the best driver and not the best girl.”
Patrick won just once in 115 IndyCar starts. She had seven podium finishes, and two of them came after she began dabbling in NASCAR two seasons ago. She moved to NASCAR full time this season, and is scheduled to drive 10 Sprint Cup races for Stewart-Haas Racing and run every Nationwide race for JR Motorsports.
She will make her Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
The Nationwide race is today. She has three top-10 finishes in 25 Nationwide races over two years.
Keselowski tops practice sessions for Daytona 500
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Brad Keselowski posted the fastest 10-lap average during Daytona 500 practice Friday, barely edging Kyle Busch.
Keselowski averaged 195.898 mph during the second of two sessions at Daytona International Speedway. Busch averaged 195.895 mph. Clint Bowyer was third, followed by Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano and Mark Martin. Denny Hamlin, Martin Truex Jr. and AJ Allmendinger rounded out the top 10.
Just 16 cars took the track in the morning session, and 23 turned laps in the afternoon.
Eleven drivers, including former Daytona 500 winners Kevin Harvick and Jamie McMurray, didn’t leave the garage. Many teams avoided practice because they don’t have backup cars and were wary of causing damage to their primary rides.
Drivers have one final chance, a 90-minute session today, to get on track before Sunday’s opener.