DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (CNN) — Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500, posting a lap of 196.434 mph Sunday.
In doing so, she also became the first woman to win a pole at any NASCAR top-division race.
She will start in the front row in the February 24 race, alongside Jeff Gordon, who ran a lap at the 2.5 mile Daytona International Speedway at 196.292 mph.
Car owner and fellow driver Tony Stewart said, “She runs so smooth, keeps such a smooth line, and that’s what you have to do to carry speed here.”
The rest of the field will be set in two qualifying races scheduled for Thursday.
Patrick, 30, is in her first full year as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver. Last year she made 10 Sprint Cup starts.