Danica Patrick celebrates with crew chief Tony Gibson after qualifying. (Chris Graythen/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Danica Patrick and her crew chief met the media after she became the first female to win the pole position for NASCAR's most iconic race.
Q: Danica, congratulations on just a superior effort out there today. I know the team worked extremely hard. Certainly history in the making. You've also qualified for the 2014 Sprint Unlimited.
DANICA PATRICK: That's right.
TONY GIBSON: One more car I have to build (laughter).
Q: What does it mean to be the polesitter, know that you're going to be leading the pack a week from today for the most famous race in stock car?
DANICA PATRICK: Thanks a lot. You just made me feel nervous right there. I'm supposed to be excited and relieved today. I feel like a broken record. I probably will feel even more so by the end of the day after all my interviews.
But I appreciate the recognition, but it really falls, as I think I said before I went out on the track, 90% on Tony and his guys, everybody that gives me the car to go out there and be fast, and maybe 10% on me.
All I have to do is think about going out there, being smooth, not letting the car bind up, running on that yellow line. Outside of that, I think it shows how well-prepared Tony and everybody was, how strong the Hendrick engines are, how good the new Chevy SS is. We've been fast since practice in January.
Last year I was pretty decent in practice and came for the race and it wasn't the same situation. This year it continued. I think that just shows how well-prepared they all have been, how hard they've worked over the winter.
It's really amazing how much effort is put into a qualifying car for Daytona, for the 500, and really only the front row is what sticks for Sunday. It's nice that all that hard work can pay off and that we can give ourselves that opportunity to lead the pack down into the tri-oval for the green flag of the Daytona 500.
Q: Tony, certainly a big day for this race team and the entire Stewart-Haas organization. Just talk a little bit about the performance of the No. 10 team, the significance of getting this pole here today.
TONY GIBSON: It's a team effort. Like I told Danica, it's more than 10% driver. I was talking to David Green on the line, about five cars away. He's just like, "Remind her to hit her shifter. I've messed up and overshifted and messed the lap up." It's more than 10% because you can put a good product out there, but if you don't have the person to drive it, put everything else together, it can really damage your day.
We just gave her a product that was really good and she took it the rest of the way. It's more than 10%, I promise you. It's 50/50.
I'm proud of her. I know there was a lot of pressure on her to come here and qualify well, in the top six, to lock us in. I'm proud of her to carry that weight on her shoulders. She didn't falter. She did everything right. She hit her marks, hit her marks on the shifts, and here we are.
It's a big deal for me, for sure, personally. I've been knocked off these front rows several times by just a little bit. It's really nice to come here and get it done, especially for the Daytona 500, my hometown. It's a big deal.
Q: Danica, Jeff Gordon says that even for a guy that's been in the sport for 20 years, it's hard sometimes not to go into protect mode when you're on the front row. How do you maintain the aggressive attitude that you need to get through the Duels and practice and get to the 500?
DANICA PATRICK: I have no idea. Tony, what am I supposed to do?
TONY GIBSON: Don't put yourself in any bad positions.
For her, it is new. You don't want to take the chance of wrecking the car, nobody does. Sometimes there's nothing you can do about it. he's going to have to put herself three-wide, four-wide, there's no way around it. If we tear it up, we tear it up. We have another one on the truck.
You can't run scared all the time. She's going to have to get out there and race. Definitely we're not going to put ourselves in very bad positions. If it looks like it's getting hairy, she can get out, go to the back and ride. We're in a position to do that.
She needs to get out there just like every driver here. The Gen-6 car is new. The Chevy SS is really fast, won last night. Even the guys that ran last night still don't have the answers. There's still a lot of things that are not answered. She's going to have to get out there and let us know what we got to do to make the car comfortable for her, two-wide, three-wide, whatever it takes.