Sports

Danica Patrick Makes History and Tackles Female Roles in Sports

Danica Patrick

Danica Patrick (Photo credit: emetsger)

Danica Patrick became the first woman to qualify on the pole for a Sprint Cup race Sunday, Feb. 17, and she did it in stock car racing’s most prominent event: the Daytona 500. It’s also the first time a woman has been on the pole of any NASCAR race.

Patrick,30, turned a lap at 196.434 miles per hour in her No. 10 Chevrolet at Daytona International Speedway to take the pole for Sunday, Feb. 24 Dayton 500.

Such progress for women in a traditionally male-dominated sport is historic, because there has still never been a woman winner of any NASCAR race, and there are no other female drivers on the sport’s top circuit. Before Patrick’s recent success, the best starting position for any woman had been achieved by Janet Guthrie, with two 9th-place starts in 1977 in less prestigious races than the Daytona 500, according to The Boston Globe.

“I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl,” Patrick said. “That was instilled in me from very young, from the beginning. Then I feel like thriving in those moments, where the pressure’s on, has also been a help for me. I also feel like I’ve been lucky in my career to be with good teams and have good people around me. I don’t think any of it would have been possible without that.

“For those reasons, I’ve been lucky enough to make history, be the first woman to do many things. I really just hope that I don’t stop doing that. We have a lot more history to make.”

Go Daddy has been Danica’s primary NASCAR sponsor from the beginning of her stock car career and sponsored her in open-wheel racing long before she made history as the first woman to win an IndyCar race in Motegi, Japan back in 2008.

“To watch Danica’s story unfold at such a high-profile venue like the Daytona 500 has been inspirational, not just for women, but for anyone with a dream to compete at the highest level,” said Blake Irving, Go Daddy CEO, in a press release. “When Danica took the pole Sunday, it represented another barrier being broken and another door being opened — and that makes us incredibly proud. We’re ecstatic for Danica and the whole Go Daddy crew in Daytona.”

“It’s nice to hear families talk about the fact that a little girl might say, ‘but Mommy, Daddy, that’s a girl out there (racing),’ ” Patrick said to NASCAR. “Then they can have the conversation with their kid about, you can do anything you want and being different doesn’t by any means not allow you to follow your dreams.”

English: Andretti Green Racing's Danica Patric...

Andretti Green Racing’s Danica Patrick at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for Pole Day for the 2008 Indianapolis 500 on Saturday, May 10, 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

“I love to think that conversation happens in households because of something I’m doing.”

She did, however, remind reporters after winning the pole position Sunday afternoon, “I was brought up to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl.”

Patrick isn’t the only female making history this month, Lauren Silberman, 28-year-old New Yorker, has become the first woman in history to register for an NFL regional scouting combine, which features players who weren’t invited to the main combine currently being held in Indianapolis.

Silberman will compete alongside college kickers in New Jersey on March 2 and 3 for the right to advance to a Dallas super-regional combine in April, according to Yahoo Sports.

“I was not aware that I was the first female registrant,” Silberman told NFL.com on Tuesday. “I was actually hoping that the 2012 historical milestone rule, to allow women to play, would prompt more women to attend tryouts this year. But for me, what’s important is to finally have a chance to fulfill my dreams by trying out to play in the world’s most competitive football league.”

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