Nascar Nationwide Qualifying

February 25, 2012 by staff 

Nascar Nationwide Qualifying, For the first time in her NASCAR career, Danica Patrick was the fastest driver in Nationwide Series qualifying Friday.
Danica Patrick, right, talks with Tony Stewart, left, after winning the pole for Saturday’s NASCAR Drive4COPD 300.

That also meant she was the fastest female and only the second woman to capture a pole position in the three major touring series in NASCAR’s 64-year history.

For Patrick, though, the former was much more important than the latter in becoming the first female pole-sitter since Shawna Robinson at Atlanta Motor Speedway on March, 10 1994.

“I really don’t think about it from a girl perspective,” she said after turning a 182.741-mph lap for Saturday’s DRIVE4COPD 300. “I’ve been taught from a young age to want to be the best driver. My dad’s here, so he can attest to the fact that when we’d go out go-karting, and I’d be a half-second quicker than everyone, and he was still ticked off and not happy and we kept working.

“It was about being the best driver and not the best girl.”

Patrick, who will make her Sprint Cup debut in Sunday’s Daytona 500, is making a full-time move to NASCAR this season. She will race full time in the lower-tier Nationwide Series and making 10 starts on the premier circuit.

In making the transition from the Izod IndyCar Series (where she raced from 2005-11 and became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500 and win a major-league oval race), Patrick has talked often about wanting to build credibility with her new competitors.

Though qualifying at Daytona International Speedway is largely considered to be more about car than driver (because restrictor plates choke down the horsepower of the engines, it’s mostly an exercise in steering without lifting off the accelerator), Friday’s pole seemed as if it helped Patrick feel more a part of the stock-car club.

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