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Fastest woman in NASCAR

Well, I can only imagine the wailing and gnashing of teeth from the Cale/Richard/David Pearson/Bobby Allison generation of NASCAR fans out there.

A daggone woman's the fastest thing at Daytona.

Danica Patrick smoked the field today to win the pole position for the Daytona 500, turning a 196.434 lap in a Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Hendricks driver Jeff Gordon, who qualified second, was the only other driver to top 196.

"It's great to be part of history. I can say I was the fastest guy today," Gordon quipped.

Patrick's lap was the fastest pole-winning lap since Dale Jarrett turned a 196.498 lap in 1995. She becomes not only the first woman ever to win the pole at Daytona, but the first woman ever to win a pole in any Sprint Cup race.

And, yes, now will come the inevitable "It's just because she had the fastest car" putdowns. True. Hendrick's Chevies have clearly been the class of the field in the the new Gen-6 rollout. But you could say the same thing about any polesitter over the years who's had a decided advantage in power.

So give the Sprint Cup rookie her due. She's fast. Always has been.

Ben Smith's blog.

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