Danica Patrick made history before taking the track as the first woman to ever run full time on the sprint Cup circuit, then she proceeded to make history multiple times by winning the pole before the race and during the race when she took the lead for a short time.
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According to ESPN.com, Patrick became the first woman to lead laps in the event after leading laps 90-91 as well as a few other for five total. She also became the highest female finisher at Daytona International Speedway, finishing in eighth after getting as high as third on the final lap.
Before Patrick came in eighth, the previous all-time best was 11th place by Janet Guthrie in 1980. Patrick formerly starred in IndyCar racing before coming to NASCAR and had a chance to pull past eventual-champion Jimmie Johnson in the final laps, but instead faded back from third to eighth, where she finished.
"You spend a lot of time thinking about what to do when the time comes," Patrick said to ESPN.com. "I kept asking up above what was working. You needed a hole, you needed people to help you out. I had a little bit of help today here and there, but I felt like if I was going to dive low, I had a feeling I was going to get freight-trained. ... At the end of the day, it was a solid day."
Patrick was the first woman to win the pole at the event and she had a strong day racing despite fading back in the final laps.
"We stayed basically in the top 10 all day long," she said. "You can't really complain about that. It was nice."
The race saw a number of small crashes and flare-ups, but Patrick was able to avoid any issues thoughout the race and was able to pull out front during the middle part of the event. The crowd was loud when she took the lead on a restart and kept the lead for laps 90 and 91 and three more later on before she was forced to make a pit stop and gave it up.
Patrick has made history at every level of racing she has been at and she had her best season last year on the Nationwide circuit when she finished in the top 10 and was named the most popular driver. When she was riding IndyCar she led 19 laps during the 2005 season as a rookie during the Indianapolis 500, becoming the first woman to accomplish that feat after finishing in fourth.
Patrick had all the attention heading into the Daytona 500 for her relationship with fellow rookie and driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who has won two straight Nationwide titles before moving to the Sprint Cup circuit himself. Patrick did so well though that after the race the only talk was about her driving and after finishing in eighth place at Daytona, her team has momentum heading into next week's event at Phoenix.