Patrick is the first woman to win the pole in the history of the Daytona 500, which is a milestone in and of itself.
Such an unprecedented occurrence has garnered an incredible amount of attention throughout the country. Not only has Patrick been featured regularly on channels like ESPN and others, but even local news stations around the country have picked up on this incredible story.
Granted, NASCAR does have a strong fanbase to keep it relevant. But rarely does the sport get the kind of exposure that puts it into the national conversation, the kind that a trailblazer like Patrick can bring.
She's got the looks and the tenacity to be a star. The only problem is that she has yet to win a race in NASCAR. Patrick was victorious in IndyCar, but she has yet to pick up a checkered flag in this level of racing.
But winning the pole last week was no doubt a step in the right direction for Patrick's career. It finally puts her at the forefront of a race based on performance. Now, all she has to do is seal the deal with a victory on Sunday.
If you thought the exposure from her winning the pole alone was significant, just imagine if she won one of the biggest, if not the biggest, race of the NASCAR season. It would be yet another milestone for Patrick in her quest to become a respected driver who is capable of winning any given race.
Furthermore, Patrick would bring the kind of national attention to NASCAR that no other driver is capable of doing.
Sure, there are plenty of great drivers who can get people talking. But a woman like Patrick will bring a media circus with her that has never been seen before—one that would open NASCAR up to a larger female audience, which is a market the sport has yet to fully crack.
The attention surrounding Patrick may be nauseating at times, but that doesn't change the fact that her pole victory and potential victory at the Daytona 500 would be huge for the sport.