- REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Danica Patrick has taken center stage at this year's Daytona 500 as the popular NASCAR driver won the pole position on Sunday.
The accomplishment marked the first time a woman had won the position during the Daytona 500- which is said to be the Super Bowl of NASCAR. Is it the latest barrier Patrick has broken during her prolific driving career.
"I've heard stories about a kid, a boy or a girl, saying, 'But mommy, daddy. That's a girl that's out there racing,'" Patrick began to explain to CNN's Don Lemon on Sunday. "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."
In winning the pole position, the famed driver will start Next Sunday's "Great American Race" on the inside part of the track in the front row. The polesitter starts the race with special advantages as well as the honor of leading the pack.
"She's one of the hottest commodities in the country right now, and not just in motor sports," Marty Reid, ABC sports commentator, exlplained to The Associated Press.
In addition to her NASCAR career, Patrick has posed for men's magazines including Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue, propelling her into stardom.
Meanwhile, the driver's personal life took a blow last year. Patrick announced that she had filed for a divorce from husband Paul Hospenthal in order to end their "irretrievably broken" marriage.
The record-making racecar driver married her former physical therapist in 2005. After seven years of marriage, Patrick took to her Facebook page in December to announce that she was harmoniously splitting from Hospenthal.
"I am sad to inform my fans that after 7 years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage," posted the 30-year-old. "This isn't easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this. He has been an important person and friend in my life and that's how we will remain moving forward."
Today, Patrick is recovering from her split and admitted to dating fellow NASCAR driver Ricky Stenhouse Jr. earlier this month.
"I have a boyfriend, his name is Richard," said Patrick, according to ESPN via The Associated Press. "I think I am just finally excited to tell someone about this."