John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

Patrick becomes first woman to lead a lap at Daytona 500

Published On February 25, 2013 | By Meghan Riggs

Even without a win, Danica Patrick made more history at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

She became the first woman to lead a lap and was the highest female finisher in the famed Daytona 500. Making just her second appearance in the Daytona 500, Patrick bettered her result last year by 30 positions.

She led three times for five laps overall and finished eighth. Janet Guthrie had the previous best finish for a woman in the Daytona 500 for 11th place in 1980.

Patrick was in position to make a run at winner Jimmie Johnson in the final laps, but she faded as she dropped from third to eighth as more experienced drivers passed her.

Patrick started the Great American Race on the pole after becoming the first woman to qualify in the top spot. She failed to lead the first lap, though, falling behind three-time race winner Jeff Gordon.

Patrick also made history as an IndyCar driver. She led 19 laps as a rookie in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, becoming the first woman to lead open-wheel racing’s premier event. She finished fourth.

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About The Author

Meghan is a junior at Boston University majoring in broadcast journalism and minoring in communications. She has been an athlete her whole life and is a member of the Women’s Ice Hockey team at BU. She is also a member of BUTV10’s sports talk show, Off Sides.