Danica Patrick continues to cement her legacy in the sport of stock car auto racing, this time by becoming the first woman in NASCAR history to lead a lap in a Daytona 500, according to NASCAR's official Twitter account:
Danica Patrick leads lap 90 and becomes the first woman to lead a lap in the #DAYTONA500. #NASCAR2/24/2013, 7:54:59 PM
The No. 10 car crossed the start/finish line on Lap 90 with the lead, officially becoming the record holder at the 2013 edition of the Great American Race.
Patrick’s success goes beyond just leading a lap, though, especially after she also won the pole for the Daytona 500 to become the first woman in history to start from the No. 1 spot for any race (h/t NASCAR).
This is a huge step in the right direction for the advancement of the sport and a sign of the changing times in NASCAR. Auto racing appeals to a huge audience of fans, and the sport will breed young fans who aspire to become drivers.
NASCAR’s target demographic includes females, and those fans now have a role model that they can root for if they choose to do so. Patrick is a mainstream star bigger than the sport, and the fact that she is racing at an elite level proves the hype surrounding her is worth it.
Leading a lap and winning the pole is a great start for Patrick’s 2013 campaign, but she will have to perform at a high level not only at the Daytona 500, but throughout the extended Sprint Cup Series Season.
Patrick needs a great performance this year to prove skeptics wrong and quiet critics.
The next race on the schedule is the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Speedway March 3, and Patrick will look continue her record-breaking season starting with the very next race.