Danica staying grounded

Danica Patrick is more than a NASCAR novelty. She can be a contender on the track and a game-changer for the sport.

In her second Daytona 500, Patrick, the first woman to start on the pole in a Sprint Cup race, raced with the leaders at 200 miles per hour, notching yet another milestone along the way by becoming the first woman to lead laps in a race in NASCAR’s top series.

Patrick even had a shot at the victory. She was in third place heading into the final lap before finishing a respectable eighth. Patrick said her goal is to not accept top-10 finishes.

“I think that would be unwise to sort of start telling myself that top 10 is where we need to be every week,” Patrick said. “I think that’s setting up for failure. The list of drivers in the Cup series is deep.

“I feel like I’m sticking to: let’s see how these first five races go, where we go to a bunch of different kinds of tracks. See where we settle in, start to establish goals from there on out.”

Even though she finished a respectable 17th at Phoenix International Raceway last November in a Cup car, she has no illusions that she will maintain that form as the series heads back there for a race on Sunday.

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