Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Danica Patrick became the first female inthe history of NASCAR's top series to win a pole position for a race byposting the quickest lap during Sunday's qualifying for the Daytona 500.
One day after recording the fastest lap overall in practice, Patrick made herqualifying lap around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway at 196.434mph (45.816 seconds) to grab the top starting position for the Feb. 24season-opener in the Sprint Cup Series.
Patrick's first pole in Sprint Cup came in her 11th start. She competed in 10races in the series last year. Patrick was the eighth driver to qualify in the45-car field.
Jeff Gordon will share the front row with Patrick in the Daytona 500. Gordon,a three-time winner of NASCAR's most prestigious race of the season, turned alap at 196.292 mph (45.850 secs.). It will be the fourth time he will start onthe front row for the Daytona 500.
Patrick and Gordon are the only drivers who have locked up their startingpositions. The remainder of the 43-car field for the Daytona 500 will bedetermined in Thursday's twin-qualifying races at Daytona.