DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —
The rest of the field will be set in duel qualifying races Thursday.
However the lineup unfolds, all drivers will line up behind Patrick's No. 10 Chevrolet SS.
And she knows her latest achievement will mean more public relations work.
The routine is nothing new for Patrick, who was the first woman to lead laps in the Indianapolis 500. She finished third in 2009, the highest finish in that illustrious race for a woman. And she became the only woman to win an IndyCar race when she did it in Japan in 2008.
Hardly anyone witnessed that victory.
Leading the field to the green flag in NASCAR's showcase event should be must-watch television.
"That's a huge accomplishment," team owner and fellow driver Tony Stewart said. "It's not like it's been 15 or 20 years she's been trying to do this. It's her second trip to Daytona here in a Cup car. She's made history in the sport. That's stuff that we're proud of being a part of with her. It's something she should have a huge amount of pride in.
"It's never been done. There's only one person that can be the first to do anything. Doesn't matter how many do it after you do, accomplish that same goal. The first one that does always has that little bit more significance to it because you were the first."
Even before her fast lap Sunday, Patrick was the talk of Speedweeks. Not only did she open up about her budding romance with fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr., but she was considered the front-runner for the pole after leading practice sessions Saturday.
And she didn't disappoint.
She kept her car at or near the bottom of the famed track and gained ground on the straightaways, showing lots of power from a Hendrick Motorsports engine.