It was a historic day at Daytona International Speedway as Danica Patrick became the first woman to win the pole for the Daytona 500 -- NASCAR's most prestigious race -- on Sunday.
Patrick's lap around the 2.5-oval was in excess of 196 mph and also marks the first time a woman has ever won a pole in NASCAR's premiere series.
The fact that Patrick sped to the pole isn't a surprise considering how strong she was in practice, as she set the top overall speed Saturday. And the positivity comes at a time when most of the news as of late concerning Patrick has centered on what she is doing away from the track and not on it.
In January, she revealed that she is dating fellow Sprint Cup Series driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who she happens to be competing against for Rookie of the Year. And just last week, the two openly discussed their relationship when they met with reporters during NASCAR Media Day.
Although Patrick is a somewhat polarizing figure among many due to her celebrity status, which has yet to equal her accomplishments -- in 10 Cup starts, her best result is 17th, and in 58 Nationwide Series races, she has just seven top 10 finishes. Her winning the pole is welcome news for NASCAR.
Like it or not, she is a household name with crossover appeal to those who don't even follow motor sports. And with her now starting the 500 in the No. 1 position, more eyeballs will inevitably be focused on what already is the most watched race in the United States.
Whether those casual observations become fans of the sport is up for debate. However, there is no debating what Patrick accomplished Sunday at Daytona as she sped into the record books.