Heat is On for Danica Patrick, Chevrolet SS in Sunday's Daytona 500
- Danica Patrick faded from the front and finished 17th in her Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday.
- Patrick made history on February 17, winning the pole for the 55th running of the Daytona 500.
- Five of the six top pole positions will be racing Chevrolet SSs at Daytona, and the new 2014 Chevrolet SS production car will pace the race.
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — Danica Patrick faded from the front and finished 17th in her Daytona 500 qualifying race Thursday, prompting some observers to fret about how she will fare on Sunday behind the wheel of the Chevrolet SS.
Patrick made history on February 17, winning the pole for the 55th running of the Daytona 500. Her feat marks the first time in the 64-year history of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series that a woman will lead the field to the start of the Great American Race.
Five of the six top pole positions will be racing Chevrolet SSs at Daytona, and the new 2014 Chevrolet SS production car will pace the race. GM told Bloomberg that the race has implications for consumers, since its engineers who spend time helping Chevy and Cadillac racing teams will rotate back into product development.
The 2014 Chevrolet SS production sedan is set to go on sale in the fourth quarter of 2013, with prices announced closer to the on-sale date.
Questions about just how much Patrick's pole-position accomplishment will mean when the green flag drops Sunday began to compete with accolades after Thursday's Budweiser Duel twin 150-mile qualifying races.
Patrick finished 17th in the first race, never leading a lap and gradually fading from her pole starting spot back in the 23-car field from the front as the race proceeded.
A Wall Street Journal headline Friday morning read, "Can Patrick Pull It Off?" Others characterized her conservative performance in qualifying as a "safe run."
In audio from Speed's television broadcast, Patrick cited handling issues with her car and strategic plans to lead if she could, fight for the win if she could, but the overriding priority was to avoid wrecking the pole-winning car.
The pole achievement is secure, but if Patrick should have to switch to a backup car or replace the engine that she used in qualifying, NASCAR rules will require her — or any other driver — to fall to the back of the starting lineup prior to the waving of the green flag.
Edmunds says: There's a lot more at stake in Sunday's Daytona 500 than a trophy for Danica Patrick. A solid performance of the Chevrolet SS will go a long way toward boosting GM's image.