More than an hour into the second practice session for the Daytona 500, Danica Patrick steered her No. 10 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet onto the race track for a mock qualifying run.
On her second lap around the 2.5-mile Daytona International Speedway, Patrick posted an average speed of 196.220 mph, the quickest lap of the day. In fact, Patrick was the only driver to exceed 196 mph in either of the two practices.
She was third fastest in the first practice, with Joey Logano topping the chart at 195.410 mph. Patrick ran 195.359 mph in first session.
Patrick was fast during Preseason Thunder testing at Daytona, but the car she's driving in the Daytona 500 isn't the same one she tested more than a month ago. Wind tunnel testing indicated the new car would perform even better, and the proof came Saturday.
"It may blow better numbers in the wind tunnel, but that doesn't necessarily translate to track speed," Patrick said after her lap in the first session. "That was a very good, clean cold car run that we feel very good about."
After the second practice, she felt even better. Rick Hendrick, who supplies chassis and engines to all the Stewart-Haas Racing teams, said he'd be delighted to see Patrick on the pole after Sunday's qualifying session.
"I would love to see her on the pole -- a) because she sparks a lot of new fans, and b) it's got my motor in it," Hendrick said after the unveiling of the new Chevrolet SS street car between practices. "She's magical.
"You look at the Super Bowl, and she's all over the Super Bowl (in TV ads). She's a good little driver, and she does a lot for our sport. It would really be special if she could be on the front row."