Danica Patrick is confident she can challenge for pole position for the Daytona 500 given her strong testing form ahead of her first full NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Patrick was among the quickest in the group test at Daytona earlier this month in her Stewart Haas Chevrolet.
"We all think that we maybe have a chance at the pole," said Patrick, who took pole for last year's Nationwide Series opener at Daytona. "I'm thinking the top six seems very realistic and, if everything goes right and we find a couple more speed items and put a good lap in, it could be pole.
"I want the pole after seeing how fast our car was at Daytona, but a top-six position will obviously take a lot of weight off our shoulders when it comes to the qualifying races."
No female driver has taken a pole at NASCAR's top-level, although both Patrick and Shawna Robinson have taken poles in the second-string championship currently known as the Nationwide Series.
While confident in her single-lap pace, Patrick underlined that she expects her race results to build up gradually in her biggest stock car season yet. She contested a handful of Cup races alongside her Nationwide campaign in 2012.
"I'm sure that there are going to be some trying moments moving through the beginning of the year, but we know that it's going to be a challenge and there's a lot to learn," she said. "We'll move through that together and keep our heads up.
"Small goals along the way are going to be top 20, then top 18, then top 16 – as opposed to, 'Oh we had a good race, now we're always going to shoot for the top 10.' That's not realistic."