Daytona Beach, FL – One day after crashing hard into the wall during the Daytona 500 qualifying races, Danica Patrick turned in the fastest lap in Friday's qualifying session for the DRIVE4COPD 300 Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.
Patrick, the driver of the No.7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet, posted a lap at 182.741 mph around the 2.5-mile superspeedway to become just the second female in Nationwide Series history to win a pole position. Shawna Robinson first did it March 1994 at Atlanta.
"It's really good," Patrick said. "I didn't watch qualifying, because I thought it would be bad luck if I started to turn around and look at the scoring board."
In Thursday's Gatorade Duel -- the twin 150-mile qualifying events for the Daytona 500 -- Patrick wrecked along the backstretch during the final lap. Her No.7 Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet slammed head on into the inside retaining wall. She was not injured during the incident. Patrick will have to start Sunday's Daytona 500 from the rear of the field in a backup car.
Patrick's first pole in NASCAR's second-tier series came in her 26th start. This will be her fourth Nationwide race at Daytona. She made her series debut at this track two years ago.
"I am happy for [crew chief] Tony [Eury] Jr.," Patrick said. "From the first time we came [to Daytona], he put so much effort into the speedway cars, and he's really good at them. But he's never had a pole at Daytona."
Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, earned the outside pole for Saturday's 300-mile Nationwide race with a lap at 182.715 mph. He was just 0.007 seconds slower than Patrick.
Elliott Sadler qualified third, followed by Patrick's Nationwide team co- owner, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Austin Dillon, last year's Camping World Truck Series champion, completed the top-five. Dillon is running a full-time Nationwide schedule this year, driving the No.3 car for Richard Childress Racing.
Stewart has won the last four Nationwide season-openers at Daytona.
The 300-mile race at Daytona is scheduled to start at 1:15 p.m. (et).