Danica Patrick fastest in Daytona 500 practice, favorite to win pole

Jared C. Tilton

After posting the fastest overall time Saturday in practice, Danica Patrick is the favorite to win the pole for the Daytona 500.

Danica Patrick is the favorite to win the pole for the Daytona 500 after she posted the top overall speed in practice held Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

The driver for Stewart-Haas Racing posted a lap of 196.220 mph in the second round of practice, topping by eight-tenths of a second the time set by Joey Logano in the morning session.

Patrick is attempting to become the first female to win the pole for the 500 and in doing so would also become the first female to win a pole in NASCAR's top series.

"Everything that we do is to make sure that we do whatever we can to be on the pole tomorrow," Patrick said Saturday following practice. "That is what we all are shooting for."

That Patrick has been fast throughout practice and is in contention for the top starting spot is not a surprise.

In Daytona testing last month, Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet was among the fastest on the track. And though, she is competing with a different car than the one she ran last month, her SHR team seems to have found the necessary speed to help her navigate around 2.5-oval.

"This other car was really good in the wind tunnel so we brought it," Patrick said. "You always hope that the numbers from the wind tunnel translate to speed on the track and it did. I guess that is kind of the way that it has gone here at Daytona for us is that everything that we think is going to work a certain way works the way we expect it to."

Patrick, entering her first full season of Sprint Cup, would join Loy Allen Jr. (1994), Mike Skinner (1997) and Jimmie Johnson (2003) as the only rookies to start first in NASCAR's most prestigious event.

Qualifying for the 55th running of the ‘Great American Race' takes place Sunday, Feb. 17 beginning at 1 p.m. ET with only the top two qualifiers being assured of their starting spots in the 500.

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