DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole for the Daytona 500 today. Patrick went out eighth in the qualifying session and covered the 2½-mile superspeedway in 45.817 seconds, averaging 196.434 mph.
She waited about two hours as 37 fellow drivers tried to take her spot. Only four-time Cup champion Jeff Gordon came close to knocking her off as he was the only other driver who topped 196 mph. He locked up the other guaranteed spot in next week's season-opening Daytona 500. The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.