Entries in Daytona 500 (3)


Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson Wins NASCAR's Biggest Race

Chris Graythen/Getty Images(DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.) -- NASCAR driver Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 on Sunday, while Danica Patrick, who made history as the first woman to win the pole position in the race, finished in eighth place.

Crews worked overnight to repair a fence at the Daytona International Speedway for Sunday's race after a fiery crash in the final lap of the Nationwide race on Saturday injured at least 28 fans when debris flew into the stands.

While there were no reports of fans being injured on Sunday, there were a handful of crashes.

A nine-car wreck during lap 34 of the race took star drivers Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick out of the running.  Stewart won the Nationwide race at the speedway on Saturday.

"Happy with our car, was just waiting for it to all get sorted out again," Stewart told ESPN.  "I don't know what started it, but we just got caught up in another wreck."

It was a history-making race for Patrick, who was entered the final lap in third place, but finished in eighth, the best showing for a woman at the Daytona 500.  She also became the first woman to lead a lap -- she led five -- at the prestigous race.

The previous highest woman finisher was Janet Guthrie, who came in 11th in 1980.

Several cars tangled and crashed in the final lap of the race, although nothing like Saturday's last-lap crash that sent rookie Kyle Larson's car airborne and a tire, engine and other debris barreling into the stands.

NASCAR officials did not throw a yellow flag and allowed Johnson to lead the pack to the checkered flag at the finish line.

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Danica Patrick Points to Hard Work(outs) in Daytona 500

Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- In the 65-year history of NASCAR, there has never been a female winner.  But Danica Patrick could change all that; she won pole position for the Daytona 500 this weekend.

“I’m not far enough removed from it to be able to understand what it really means,” she said Sunday. “All I can say is, just like anyone else in this moment, I’m happy. I’m proud.”

Patrick beat out 37 other drivers, including four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, and hit speeds of 196 miles per hour — Daytona’s fastest speed since 1990. She happens to be 8 inches shorter and 50 pounds lighter than any of her male counterparts.

In addition to her team and state-of-the-art car, she said grueling workouts helped her in Sunday’s tryouts.  Patrick has said in previous interviews that racing is like a three-hour workout.

Patrick has said she focuses on her upper-body strength, building neck muscles like an NFL linebacker to stay upright during hard turns.

Mike Massaro, an ESPN reporter, said he had no doubt that Patrick was in top physical shape.

“She is constantly working out, watching her diet,” Massaro said. “In fact, yesterday, after she turned in her qualifying lap and had a two-hour wait to see how it all played out, she spent her time by going to the gym. That’s how dedicated she is to her fitness routine.”

Patrick has said keeping a grip on the steering wheel during a race is like holding a medicine ball for two hours, and hitting the break pedal during the turns is like pushing down with 300 pounds of force.

She does all of this in sauna-like 150-degree temperatures inside the car, wearing a fireproof bodysuit.

Drivers can sweat off 7 pounds during a single race.

“She has said time and time again that she has not set out to be the fastest girl,” Massaro said. “She has set out to be the fastest driver and she proved that.”
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Danica Patrick Becomes First Woman to Take Pole at Daytona 500

Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Danica Patrick pulled off the biggest coup of her four-year NASCAR career, becoming the first woman to ever take the pole at the Daytona 500 and the first to clinch a pole in any race in NASCAR’s premier series, the Sprint Cup.

Clocking 196 miles per hour, she beat out 37 other drivers, including four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick said. “That’s how I’ve always approached my racing career. I’ve been lucky enough to make history and be the first woman to do many things. We have a lot more history to make and we are excited to do it.”

Gordon was the only other driver who topped 196 mph. He locked up the No. 2 spot in the Daytona 500, which kicks off the Sprint Cup season next week.

“It’s great to be part of history,” Gordon said. “I can say I was the fastest guy today. I think we all know how popular she is, what this will do for our sport. Congratulations to her. Proud to be on there with her.”

Patrick is not new to making racing history. She was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500, and her third-place finish in 2009 at the Brickyard was the best showing ever by a woman. She is also the only woman to have ever won an IndyCar race.

Since her move to NASCAR, though, she had not fared as well, but her performance Saturday could be an indication of better things to come.

“That’s a huge accomplishment,” team owner and fellow driver Tony Stewart said. “It’s not like it’s been 15 or 20 years she’s been trying to do this. It’s her second trip to Daytona here in a Cup car. She’s made history in the sport. That’s stuff that we’re proud of being a part of with her. It’s something she should have a huge amount of pride in.”


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