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Danica Patrick's Star Will Continue to Soar After Historic Run in Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 22: Danica Patrick, driver of the #34 Chevrolet, walks on the grid during qualifying for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 22, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images
Richard LangfordCorrespondent IFebruary 25, 2013

I hope you haven't grown tired of the Danica Patrick hype because it is just beginning. 

The driver, who just began her first full-time Sprint Cup season, pulled off an impressive run at the Daytona 500 while finishing eighth. 

This is the highest finish for a female driver in the Great American Race, and it was not the only standard for female drivers at the Daytona 500 set by Patrick. 

She was the first female driver to start on the pole, and the first to lead a lap during the race—a fact that NASCAR tweeted:

In all, Patrick led five laps on the day, and she was in a position to win the whole thing. She was sitting in third in the final laps, but was unable to make a push and wound up in eighth. 

Patrick, no doubt, suffered from her lack of experience as she made her fall back. With NASCAR switching to the Generation 6 cars, the Sprint Cup Series has returned to more of a pack-racing style. 

Coming to NASCAR from the IndyCar series, Patrick has no experience in this style of racing. It is going to take some time behind the wheel to master the nuances enough where she can hang with the elite. However, she certainly proved she is on the right track. 

Patrick was patient, which helped her escape any of the day's wrecks. She was also aggressive when the situation allowed. Also, her Stewart-Haas team looked very good, and they showed they are ready to put Danica behind the wheel of a great car week in and week out. 

While Danica will undoubtedly suffer through some ups and downs in her rookie year, she has everything she needs to make the Chase and be a big factor all season. 

This is going to push her star to a new level. Patrick entered this race with the eyes of the racing world right on her and she did not disappoint. This is going to take the hype surrounding Patrick to a new level, and she will build on that with a strong season. 

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