Danica Patrick weathers Duel, ready to make history on Sunday

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Danica Patrick (L), driver of the #34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, talks with Cup Series Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (R), driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

DAYTONA BEACH, FL – FEBRUARY 21: Danica Patrick (L), driver of the #34 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, talks with Cup Series Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (R), driver of the #17 Best Buy Ford, in the garage during practice for the NASCAR Nationwide Series DRIVE4COPD 300 at Daytona International Speedway on February 21, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)

Danica Patrick’s assignment on Thursday wasn’t a particularly exciting one, but she accomplished it successfully.

As a result, the driver of the No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet SS will make history once again on Sunday as the first female driver to lead the field to green in NASCAR’s most important race, the Daytona 500.

To ensure that distinction, Patrick had to keep her pole-winning car intact during her Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying race on Thursday at Daytona International Speedway. She did just that, dropping to the back after seven laps and coming home 17th.

“It’s not an exciting mission when you just have to bring it home,” Patrick said. “But it is for the Daytona 500, so you’ve got to keep that in mind. I learned that the outside (lane) is strong, and it carries a lot of good momentum.

“And then I learned that you need some friends. I also learned that you can’t be too tight (with respect to handling)… It was way too tight at the start, but we wanted to be conservative. We didn’t want to have any issues with the GoDaddy car.

“We wanted to make sure we’ve got it on that front row for Sunday.”

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