The 2013 NASCAR season has already set milestones and we haven’t even made it to the main event yet.
After setting her mark leading qualifying practice earlier in the week, Danica Patrick doubters were already wondering if that was the best we would see from her in the start of her full-time schedule in the Sprint Cup Series. Much to their surprise, she had more up her sleeve.
After already being the center of attention, mainly over her new found love interest in fellow Sprint Cup rookie contender Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Patrick stunned the sport and fans alike after taking the pole position for Sunday’s Daytona 500. Stamping another spot in the history books, by becoming the first female driver to snag a pole for the top seeded series and the 500, Patrick sailed to the top of the speed charts with a lap time of 196.434. It is also the fastest qualifying run at Daytona since Ken Schrader’s time of 196.515 in 1990. Four-time NASCAR Champion Jeff Gordon was the only other driver who even came close to knocking her off the pole with a lap time of 196.292.
Patrick and Gordon are currently the only two drivers with guaranteed and set spots for Sunday. The rest of the field will fight for their starting positions in Thursday’s qualifying duels.
Although Patrick’s name has sparked most of the hype and attention over the opening weeks of the season, fans were definitely excited to watch the new Gen 6 cars take to the track on Saturday for the Sprint Unlimited (formerly known by the NASCAR faithful as the Bud Shootout). After their unveiling over the course of the 2012 season, it felt to many fans as if NASCAR was finally getting back to that “old-school” look and feel that put the sport on the map. To many, Saturday’s race seemed to also prove more, the look of what that “old-school” pack racing used to be.
And for the winner of the Sprint Unlimited, Kevin Harvick? A bittersweet start to his final season under Richard Childress Racing. Dominating the final two segments, Harvick booked his third win in the last five years in the Speedweeks opening event. Already announcing his move to Stewart-Haas in 2014, Harvick simply wants to make the most of his final year in the seat of the No.29.
For fans of the sport, it looks like they just might be in for an exciting and unpredictable season.
Thursday’s duels are set to start at 2 p.m.
About the Author
Written by Ashley Gulick
Sports Journalism is my passion! I keep up with the latest news on pro/college football, NASCAR and baseball....and just about everthing else. I grew up in Talladega, Ala., but moved to Georgia when I was 15. From a young age, I always knew that I wanted to be involved with sports somehow. Once I got into college and completed my degree in Communications, I knew that I had a passion for sports journalism. I have covered sports for the Kennesaw Sentinel (KSU's student paper), Marietta Daily Journal and Douglas County Sentinel.