Danica Patrick Makes NASCAR a Winner Whether She Performs or Not

Mike HoagCorrespondent IIFebruary 24, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 14:  Driver Danica Patrick poses during portraits for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Daytona International Speedway on February 14, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Danica Patrick is reeling us all in to NASCAR.

Patrick and NASCAR are a match made in heaven. She gets her chance to race against the top drivers in the world, and the sport gets unparalleled exposure and recognition in areas in which it had only cracked the surface previously.

You’ve undoubtedly heard about her record-setting performance during 2013 Daytona 500 qualifying last week. That is true for everyone whether you’re a recent convert, a clueless outsider or a casual spectator of the sport.

It’s useless to try avoiding talk about her performance, or the upcoming Daytona 500, as a result.

She won the pole, or the top starting position, for the Daytona 500 race. The win is significant because she became the first woman to ever win that spot for one of NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series races.

Significant is putting it mildly.

She’ll have the esteemed honor of leading the 43-car pack to the green flag before the start of today’s race. It isn’t just any race, either; it is the Daytona 500!

Her appeal goes beyond her being just a woman who won a qualifying race in a “man’s game,” though.

Seeing someone cross over and succeed where others have not is certainly an inspiration, but just being there paints a big enough picture to capture the attention of society.

Sure, winning would be an added bonus, but it’s not necessary. The intrigue is already there. Patrick is transcending labels in the process of her quest to become the best driver in the world.

And it’s going to be a process—one that comes with many bumps along the road.

Win or lose at Daytona, she’s already won the hearts and minds of the public. That’s the easy part.

The demand is there. Win or lose, we’ll keep tuning in next time, or the race after that, to see if that will be the one in which she crosses the checkered flag first.