(CNN) — Race car driver Danica Patrick made history on Sunday by becoming the first woman to win the pole position for the Daytona 500. It's the first for a female in any top NASCAR race, let alone the sport's flagship event. She says she was raised to be the fastest driver, not the fastest girl.
Patrick says she's happy to be a role model. "I love that to go beyond racing in general, I mean, just to kind of break gender barriers, I feel that one of the coolest things is to be able to think that parents and their kids are having that conversation at home about it. And to -- I've heard stories about a kid, boy or girl, saying, but mommy, daddy, that's a girl that's out there racing and then they can have that conversation to say 'you can do anything you want to do and gender doesn't matter. Your passion is what matters.' And that's cool."
Patrick will start in the front row in the February 24th race, alongside Jeff Gordon. The rest of the field will be set in two qualifying races scheduled for Thursday. She's in her first full year as a NASCAR Sprint Cup Driver. Last year, she made 10 Sprint Cup starts.