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Danica Patrick Already Proving She Belongs with the Big Boys
Danica raced side-by-side with the big boys
Getty Images for NASCAR
Not only did Danica Patrick prove she could hang with the big boys in her second career appearance in the Daytona 500 on Sunday, she finished eighth.

It was a record for a woman at the historic race...after she set a record by becoming the first woman to capture a pole position for the event on Feb. 17. She also led twice for a total of five laps in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.

Talk about making a statement.

This year marks the first full campaign for Patrick in the Sprint Cup Series. This was her first race of the year in the series and she exploded off the line.

Patrick also accomplished another impressive feat at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

She noted, via the New York Times:

“I think a stat that I found more interesting is only 13 people, including me now, have led Indy and Daytona,” said Patrick, who became the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500, in 2005. “I thought that was a much cooler stat for me."

According to the New York Times, Patrick actually said she was disappointed with her finish, given she was in third place headed into the last lap. She wasn't satisfied, claiming the main goal was to be "the best driver" moving forward.

Patrick is a competitive person. It's one of the reasons why she decided to make the complete jump to the Sprint Cup Series this year. She's not going to be truly happy unless she finishes first.

But Patrick should be thrilled with what she did on Sunday in Daytona Beach.

The 30-year-old wasn't given much of a chance to compete with the big boys on Sunday. It was her second appearance in the Daytona 500 and sexism still exists in NASCAR, whether you want to believe it or not.

But very few—even some of her greatest supporters—could have envisioned her finishing in the top 10 on Sunday. It was a truly remarkable, historic event. Her accomplishment cannot be overstated.

Patrick may not have won over all of her biggest critics—or even most of them—on Sunday, but if she races like she did in the 2013 Daytona 500 moving forward, it won't be long before she does. Bleacher Report

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