Daytona Beach, FL (Sports Network) - Danica Patrick turned in the fastest lap
during Saturday's practice at Daytona International Speedway, making her a
strong contender for the pole position for the Feb. 24 Daytona 500.
Patrick, who is a rookie contender in the Sprint Cup Series this season,
recorded the quickest lap overall in Daytona 500 qualifying practice at
196.220 mph, which occurred during the second session. The driver of the No.
10 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing was third on the time/speed charts during
the first session at 195.359 mph.
Just the first two starting positions for the Daytona 500 will be decided in
Sunday's time trials, which is scheduled to begin at 1:00 p.m. ET. The
remainder of the 43-car field will be decided in the Feb. 21 twin-qualifying
races (Budweiser Duel).
With NASCAR returning to a random draw to determine the qualifying order for
Sprint Cup races this season, Patrick is scheduled to make her qualifying run
eighth in the 45-car field. For the past two seasons, the order had been set
based on overall practice speeds from slowest to fastest.
"I suppose being the fastest going into qualifying is as good as you could
hope for," Patrick said. "But I also understand that (qualifying) is a whole
different day. We could go out there on the track and just for some reason not
have as much speed as we had hoped for. We could be in an unfortunate
situation with wind or weather, temperatures, clouds, so I understand that.
"We have done everything we can to prepare for it. We all feel pretty
confident, but tomorrow is a different day."
According to the National Weather Service, the forecast for the Daytona Beach
area tomorrow calls a high near 53 degrees and a northwest wind around 15 mph,
with gusts reaching as high as 25 mph.
When Sprint Cup teams tested at Daytona for three days last month, Patrick was
continuously among the fastest, particularly in single-car runs.
"We came here this weekend for the race with another car than what we tested,"
she said. "We weren't sure if we were going to bring the same one back or not
because it ran so well. This other car was really good in the wind tunnel so
we brought it. You always hope that the numbers from the wind tunnel translate
to speed on the track and it did."
Joey Logano, who is in his first season as driver of the No. 22 Ford for
Penske Racing, led the way in the first session at 195.410 mph.
Last year, Patrick won the pole position for the Nationwide Series season-
opener at Daytona, driving the No. 7 Chevrolet for JR Motorsports at the time.
No female has ever won the pole for the Daytona 500. Could Patrick be the
"It would be really nice," she noted. "It is a very big pole of all of them in
the year for attention."
The Sports Network