DAYTONA - Danica Patrick won the pole for the 55th annual Daytona 500 with a speed of 196.434 MPH on Sunday. She covered the 2.5-mile trioval superspeedway in 45.817 seconds. That speed was the fastest qualifying mark for the Daytona 500 since Ken Schrader in 1990. Patrick became the first female driver to win a pole in NASCAR Sprint Cup history.
Patrick shattered the previous record for top starting spot by a female NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver. Janet Guthrie previously held the mark, twice starting ninth in 1977. She started ninth at Talladega Superspeedway on Aug. 7, 1977 and at Bristol Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.
The previous best starting position for a female in the Daytona 500 was 18th by Janet Guthrie in 1980.
This is Patrick's second NASCAR pole, also winning the Coors Light Pole for the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona last season. The only other female to win a NASCAR national series pole was Shawna Robinson in a NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in 1994.
Jeff Gordon will start second on the grid after a qualifying run of 196.292 MPH. The Daytona 500 is set for Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. on FOX at Daytona International Speedway.