The Herald Bulletin

Evening Update

Entertainment

February 25, 2013

Local NASCAR fans watch Danica Patrick make history

Some surprised, some rooting for her

ANDERSON, Ind. — NASCAR driver Danica Patrick made history as she became not only the first woman to win pole position, but to also lead a lap at the Daytona 500 on Sunday. And while she didn’t finish first — Patrick placed eighth while Jimmie Johnson won the race for the second time — some NASCAR watchers were just glad she won the opportunity.

“I think it’s good,” said Bob Thompson, 64, of Anderson, who watched the race at Buffalo Wild Wings. “She’s earned it. She’s worked for it.”

Thompson, who was attempting to play poker as he watched the race — which was self-admittedly “not going very good” — said he was kind of rooting for Patrick, hoping she’d be the first woman to also win the Daytona 500.

Someone has to be the first, he said.

Others were surprised that Patrick even got the pole position.

Marc McNally, 35, of Middletown, said Patrick often crashes in the first 15 to 20 minutes of a race.

He was rooting for Dale Earnhardt Jr., as he’s done for the last four to five years. He, like many other NASCAR fans, watches for the non-life threatening “wrecks, the speed and the aggression.”

Oh, and the adrenaline.

“I think there’s going to be a lot of changes this year,” he said, “because of the different cars and teams and everything.”

Mark Byers, 44, of New Castle, began watching the race about halfway through. While he grew up watching the sport with a father who was a big fan, he said he finds races on speedways like Bristol’s more entertaining, because there’s less use of the caution flags.

Still, he was pulling for Patrick, even though he, too, was surprised she got the lead.

Byers said he wasn’t sure she had the horsepower for it, but added that her making of history is good for the sport.

“I think it was a little motivating, a little different,” he said.

She certainly puts herself out there with marketing, he added, but remains a solid competitor for the sport.

Kim Gibson, 34, of Anderson, said she’s a Jeff Gordon and Patrick fan.

“She’s good,” she said. “She’s got a lot of momentum and perseverance.”

Despite neither of her favorites winning it, Gibson said she enjoyed the opener of the NASCAR season.

“I loved every minute of it,” she said.

Find Dani Palmer on Facebook and @DaniPalmer_THB on Twitter, or call 640-4847.

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