Danica Patrick Mania Revs Up Ahead of Daytona 500 | Edmunds.com
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Danica Patrick Mania Revs Up Ahead of Daytona 500


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Just the Facts:
  • Interest in NASCAR racing has been increasing since Sunday when Danica Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500.
  • Coverage of Patrick's historic achievement has been everywhere, including CNN and Good Morning America.
  • Before Sunday's Daytona 500, Patrick will compete in a 150-mile preliminary race at Daytona.

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Interest in NASCAR racing has been increasing since Sunday when Danica Patrick won the pole for the Daytona 500.

Coverage of Patrick's historic achievement has been everywhere, including CNN and Good Morning America. The 30-year-old Stewart-Hass Racing driver is being credited with introducing the sport to a new generation of fans in the critical 18-to-34-year-old age group, including young women. Patrick's achievement marked the first time a woman has earned the top spot in a Sprint Cup race.

The New York Times dubbed the media frenzy over Patrick the "24 Hours of Danica."

NASCAR is buzzing with chatter about Patrick's achievement and giddy with the publicity it has generated. Patrick is the only female driver in NASCAR's top series and a major part of its advertising plan. She is expected to dominate the new commercial spots for the Daytona 500.

Before Sunday's Daytona 500, Patrick will compete in a 150-mile preliminary race at Daytona. Twin 150-mile races on Thursday will be staged to determine the bulk of the 43-car lineup for Sunday's Daytona 500.

The Daytona pole is one more step forward for Patrick, who exploded into stardom in 2005 when she became the first woman to lead a lap in the Indianapolis 500. She finished 4th and was named top rookie of the iconic race that year, and in 2009, she finished 3rd in the 500.

Now she has won the pole for the only race that rivals Indianapolis in national status. Her first career NASCAR pole comes on the biggest possible stage, the achievement further magnified because she's behind the wheel of the new Gen 6 racecar.

Patrick has grabbed headlines for her off-track exploits of late, including a romantic relationship with fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and her appearance in GoDaddy's 2013 Super Bowl commercials.

Edmunds says: Patrick has as much experience as anyone in operating under intense scrutiny. But as NASCAR continues to capitalize on Patrick's star status, there is the risk of overexposure.

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