DAYTONA, FL - As expected, NASCAR did all it could to help elevate this past weekend's Daytona 500 into the history books, and it did so by seeing the sports first full-time female driver - Danica Patrick - win the race's coveted pole position and then reward predictably Sprint Cup series' favorite Jimmie Johnson with the race win.
"I knew I was a cinch to win," Johnson told ESPN pit row reporter after pausing to smile for pictures with several trackside fans. "In the media room before the race, NASCAR president Mike Helton told everyone that this was my comeback year, so the race itself was just a formality. They'd sold all of this advertising, so we had to run it, but the results have been known by insiders since Thursday."
However, the lion's share of the attention all week long had been undeservedly directed at series rookie, Danica Patrick, who was forced by IndyCar Series officials last year to give up that career when it was learned that she couldn't parallel park. Once further criticism was leveled on her when it was learned she drove most races with the parking brake on, Patrick was forced out of the sport. Needing a pretty face now that Kasey Kahne had entered puberty, NASCAR was only all too happy to bring Patrick to the 10 car.
"You know, I mean, it was just such a rush," she told reporters in her first post-race NASCAR interview. "I mean, you're going this fast, and, I mean, you're doing, I mean, that turn and this turn, and, I mean, just keeping your foot on the gas in something special, I mean. You know, I mean, I've never driven 200 miles per hour and, I mean, that's as fast as I've ever driven and put make-up on at the same time."
Helton refused comment when asked what the future held for Patrick in the Sprint Cup series.
"We're still trying to work out sponsorship deals with Vagisil," Helton disclosed.