( 9 OUT OF 55)
WINS FROM POLE
Danica Patrick is in the majority when it comes to
taking the Daytona 500 pole, but failing to win the
race. Only nine drivers have started and finished
first in the race’s 55-year history. At the Indy 500,
it’s happened in
21 out of 96 races ( 21. 9 percent).
Kyle Larson’s Chevy is launched fenceward. The subsequent impact would rip the nose off his car and punch the engine through the safety fence.
PATRICK’S STOCK RISES Danica wins pole and the hearts of the fans
Has NASCAR got its new hero? Or, rather,
heroine? Danica Patrick, who took pole for
the Nationwide race at Daytona in February
2012, repeated the feat in a Sprint Cup
car this year, starting the Daytona 500
from pole after an impressive 196mph-
plus qualifying run. Although she lost the
lead at the start, Patrick ran in the top 10
all day, led five laps and finished eighth.
Perhaps more significant still was the
jubilation in the grandstands when Patrick
took the lead and became the first woman to
run P1 at both the Indy 500 and Daytona
500 – a feat accomplished by just 13 drivers.
Patrick’s relationship with fellow Rookie
of the Year contender Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
kept her in the spotlight in the buildup to
“The Great American Race,” and her boss
at Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart, had
warned of the pressures she would face,
but she appeared to handle it with ease.
Her inexperience only showed when it
came to timing her run for the lead on the
last lap, which she’d started in third place.
Repeating the performance at
non-restrictor plate tracks may be a tough
ask in the short term, but at Daytona, at
least, she proved worthy of the hype.
were made to the damaged fencing. DIS
president Joie Chitwood was at pains to
stress that replacing a damaged crossover
gate with a regular fence was not due to
question marks over safety, but simply time
constraints. The Daytona 500 ran as
scheduled, Feb. 24, with fans occupying the
same seats hit by debris the previous day.
Most regarded it as miraculous that all
the drivers involved in the wreck were
unharmed. But after an accident in which
Larson’s engine landed in a spectator
walkway, questions will surely be asked
over whether the energy dissipation
measures built into the racecar caused it
to throw out too much debris.
JOHNSON PLAYS IT CANNY Over the past decade, Jimmie Johnson made it look harder to win the Daytona 500 than the NASCAR Sprint Cup, but six years after his first “500” win, the five- time champ nailed his second, primarily through strong
restarts and smart
driving in the final
Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images
It’s billed as “The Great
American Race,” but the
single-file racing seen in
this year’s Daytona 500
made for an unusually
muted affair for most of it.
The top lane was the
favored, faster one, but
were drivers taking the
cautious approach or
was the lack of action
due to the Gen- 6 cars
aero package? Race
winner Jimmie Johnson
suggested a little of both.
“These cars are very
sensitive to side drafting,”
he said “and we saw that
RACING RESTRICTED TO FINAL LAPS
when we did run side by
side. But when we’re
running single file, we’re
just trying to get to the
finish. We’ve all crashed
so many times and have
torn up so much stuff,
and a lot of that falls on
the driver’s shoulders.”