Danica Patrick became the first female driver ever to take a NASCAR Sprint Cup pole position as she outpaced her rivals in qualifying for the Daytona 500.
Having been rapid in January testing and fastest in Saturday practice, Patrick's pace came as no surprise. The IndyCar race winner is starting her first full season at Cup level with Stewart-Haas Racing. She also took pole at Daytona last year during her Nationwide Series campaign.
"I have a feeling it's going to be one of those things I look back on in 10, 20, 30 years and feel something about," said Patrick of her historic achievement. "At this point in time it's just about going out there and getting what you can. You guys can all talk about it, I'm just turning left..."
Stewart-Haas looked like it would dominate for much of qualifying, as team-mates Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart led the way before Patrick's lap and held second and third behind her for a long spell.
But its formation was interrupted when Jeff Gordon snatched second in his Hendrick Chevrolet and 2011 Daytona winner Trevor Bayne thrust his Wood Brothers Ford to third in the closing stages.
Only Patrick and Gordon's positions are set for next Sunday's showpiece race, with the rest of the grid decided by the results of the two Duel races on Thursday. Sunday's times set the Duel starting orders. Newman and Stewart were pushed back to fourth and fifth behind Bayne, with Kasey Kahne in the second-best Hendrick car.
Joe Gibbs Racing duo Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were seventh and eighth, followed by their former and new team-mates, with Gibbs-to-Penske convert Joey Logano and Roush Fenway-to-Gibbs mover Matt Kenseth completing the top 10.
Reigning champion Brad Keselowski was only 23rd, two places behind his main 2012 title rival Jimmie Johnson. Last year's eventual runner-up Clint Bowyer was 18th and Sprint Unlimited winner Kevin Harvick 25th.
Pos Driver Team/Car Time Gap
1. Danica Patrick Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 45.817s
2. Jeff Gordon Hendrick Chevrolet 45.850s + 0.033s
3. Trevor Bayne Wood Brothers Ford 45.924s + 0.107s
4. Ryan Newman Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 45.931s + 0.114s
5. Tony Stewart Stewart-Haas Chevrolet 45.936s + 0.119s
6. Kasey Kahne Hendrick Chevrolet 45.953s + 0.136s
7. Denny Hamlin Joe Gibbs Toyota 45.972s + 0.155s
8. Kyle Busch Joe Gibbs Toyota 45.973s + 0.156s
9. Joey Logano Penske Ford 45.973s + 0.156s
10. Matt Kenseth Joe Gibbs Toyota 45.983s + 0.166s
11. Dale Earnhardt Jr Hendrick Chevrolet 46.016s + 0.199s
12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr Roush Fenway Ford 46.027s + 0.210s
13. Juan Pablo Montoya Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 46.034s + 0.217s
14. Paul Menard Childress Chevrolet 46.035s + 0.218s
15. Casey Mears Germain Ford 46.037s + 0.220s
16. Austin Dillon Childress Chevrolet 46.063s + 0.246s
17. Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Ford 46.097s + 0.280s
18. Clint Bowyer Waltrip Toyota 46.100s + 0.283s
19. Martin Truex Jr Waltrip Toyota 46.105s + 0.288s
20. Jeff Burton Childress Chevrolet 46.117s + 0.300s
21. Jimmie Johnson Hendrick Chevrolet 46.134s + 0.317s
22. Jamie McMurray Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet 46.144s + 0.327s
23. Brad Keselowski Penske Ford 46.163s + 0.346s
24. Marcos Ambrose Petty Ford 46.203s + 0.386s
25. Kevin Harvick Childress Chevrolet 46.215s + 0.398s
26. Aric Almirola Petty Ford 46.215s + 0.398s
27. Greg Biffle Roush Fenway Ford 46.218s + 0.401s
28. Mark Martin Waltrip Toyota 46.229s + 0.412s
29. David Gilliland Front Row Ford 46.236s + 0.419s
30. David Ragan Front Row Ford 46.245s + 0.428s
31. Michael Waltrip Swan Toyota 46.317s + 0.500s
32. Josh Wise Front Row Ford 46.331s + 0.514s
33. Kurt Busch Furniture Row Chevrolet 46.474s + 0.657s
34. Michael McDowell Parsons Ford 46.501s + 0.684s
35. Scott Speed Leavine Ford 46.502s + 0.685s
36. Terry Labonte FAS Lane Ford 46.508s + 0.691s
37. Regan Smith Phoenix Chevrolet 46.609s + 0.792s
38. Dave Blaney Baldwin Chevrolet 46.633s + 0.783s
39. Bobby Labonte JTG Daugherty Toyota 46.738s + 0.814s
40. JJ Yeley Max Q Ford 46.852s + 0.921s
41. David Reutimann BK Toyota 47.284s + 1.348s
42. Travis Kvapil BK Toyota 47.333s + 1.380s
43. Joe Nemechek NEMCO-JRR Toyota 47.357s + 1.385s
44. Mike Bliss Humphrey Smith Chevrolet 47.509s + 1.536s
45. Brian Keselowski Hamilton Means Toyota 48.946s + 2.973s