DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Based on her experience in Thursday’s first Budweiser Duel 150-mile qualifying race, Danica Patrick will bring the field to green in the outside lane to start Sunday’s Daytona 500.
Patrick, who was the pole winner has her pick of lanes, confirmed the decision to reporters Friday afternoon in the Daytona media center. In her Duel, Patrick chose the bottom lane and was shuffled back through the field.
“I started on the bottom,” Patrick said. “Tony (Stewart) was right behind me if I started there, so we thought that was kind of the best place to be. We didn’t really know that it was going to be so obvious that we needed to start on the top; that’s why we will do that for the 500 on Sunday. Tony just stayed back there, so I just stayed with him.
“We just kind of fell back; we got three-wide a little bit at one point, and I just got out of it and let that pass and then dropped to the back. The car was pretty tight, so there wasn’t a lot I could do anyway. Passing seems tough without a fair amount of help. And even when you get that, it sometimes gets stopped-up by somebody dropping down in front of the lane, and slowing it up.
“So, it is going to be interesting to see how things end up working out on Sunday.”
Patrick is the first female driver to win a pole in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. No female driver has won a race in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series.