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Guthrie greets Patrick's feat at Daytona

Janet Guthrie, who held the record for best Sprint Cup start by a woman until Danica Patrick’s pole run on Sunday, ran her first Daytona 500 and first Indianapolis 500 in the same year, 1977.

Times files (1976)

Janet Guthrie, who held the record for best Sprint Cup start by a woman until Danica Patrick’s pole run on Sunday, ran her first Daytona 500 and first Indianapolis 500 in the same year, 1977.

DAYTONA BEACH — Danica Patrick has found more than the success that eluded Janet Guthrie in her brief NASCAR stint.

Patrick also has the acceptance in the garage Guthrie never did.

Guthrie struggled in an era when women were still viewed in stock car racing as unwanted outsiders. Guthrie, the first woman in NASCAR's Coca-Cola 600 race in 1976, received an icy reception from the sport's biggest drivers.

It was in stark contrast to Sunday's scene on pit road moments after Patrick clinched her Daytona 500 pole — with a hug from Tony Stewart and a handshake from No. 2 qualifier Jeff Gordon.

Guthrie congratulated Patrick on Sunday for becoming the first woman to win the top spot for any race in NASCAR's top circuit. But Guthrie was more proud of the way NASCAR's attitude toward women has evolved over the past 30-plus years. Guthrie was heartened at seeing a women succeed in a man's world.

"It took time for that attitude to change, but it did change," Guthrie, 74, told the Associated Press by phone Sunday. "That was one of my biggest pleasures was seeing that attitude change."

Guthrie had been the top female qualifier in a Cup race. She started ninth at Bristol and Talladega in 1977.

She was the first woman to drive in the Indianapolis 500 in 1977, the same year she became the first in the Daytona 500.

"I'm ancient history," Guthrie said from Colorado. "It's about time my little record got broken."

Different type of run: Five-time Sprint Cup champ Jimmie Johnson was one of the nearly 1,400 runners who took advantage of brisk temperatures to race in the Daytona Beach Half-Marathon in the morning. "That was an awesome race," said Johnson, who finished 13.1 miles in 1 hour, 29 minutes, 48 seconds. "That course was really cool, and there were a lot of people along the way cheering, the DJ at the bridge pumping music out, and the people were even running in 48 gear," a reference to his car number. Tampa's Aric Almirola ran, as did fellow NASCAR drivers Kasey Kahne and Michael Waltrip. The course started in pit lane, went outside the track and ended in Victory Lane.

Qualifiers: Trevor Bayne, the 2011 Daytona 500 winner, was the only Ford to qualify in the top eight, running third with a lap of 195.976 mph. Almirola (194.742) was 26th and David Reutimann of Zephyrhills, in a Toyota for BK Racing was 41st (190.339).

NHRA: Courtney Force got her second career Funny Car win, beating Ron Capps in the final at the season-opening Winternationals in Pomona, Calif. Shawn Langdon (Top Fuel) and Vincent Nobile (Pro Stock) also won their classes.

Guthrie greets Patrick's feat at Daytona 02/17/13 [Last modified: Sunday, February 17, 2013 10:30pm]

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