Danica Patrick only added to the excitement of the Daytona 500 on Sunday when she became the first woman to win the pole position in the historic race.
The 2013 Daytona 500 offers plenty of intrigue, beginning with Patrick. Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing won his second career Daytona 500 last year. He's the only driver to win twice in the race in the last 11 years.
Don't forget about Dale Earnhardt Jr., either. He won "The Great American Race" in 2004 and placed second last year.
Here's a look at the 2013 Daytona 500, complete with schedule information.
Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.
When: Sunday, Feb. 24 at 1 p.m. ET
Listen: Motor Racing Network
Everybody's talking about Patrick after she became the first woman to win the pole position at a Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday ahead of the Daytona 500.
This marks the first full season for Patrick in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. To date, her best finish in a Sprint Cup Series race is fourth (Las Vegas Motor Speedway, March 2011). She's had seven top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series (58 races) and six top-10 finishes in the Indianapolis 500.
Matt Kenseth (who currently holds 15-1 odds) won the Daytona 500 last year. He has now won the historic race twice in the past five years. Trevor Bayne won the 2011 Daytona 500 when he was only 20 years old and shocked the world.
Keselowski and Stewart are the past two Sprint Cup champions. Jimmie Johnson won the previous five championships before that.
While Patrick won the pole position on Sunday, the car is generally given more credit before the actual race. That's not trivializing what Patrick did, but it's certainly going to be more difficult to win the Daytona 500.
For example, Earnhardt Jr. finished second last year despite winning the pole position. Pole position driver Kurt Busch finished third in 2011. In fact, the average finish of the past 10 winners of the pole position is 19th.
It figures to be a sizzling 2013 NASCAR season, and the addition of Patrick will only add more spice to the mix. Johnson is trying to become Sprint Cup champion once again, while three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon looks to get his campaign off to a fast start.
Patrick and Stewart headline Stewart-Haas Racing's team this year.
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