Danica Patrick won the pole for the season-opening Nationwide Series race at Daytona.Patrick became the first woman to secure the top qualifying spot in NASCAR’s second-tier series since Shawna Robinson at Atlanta on March 12, 1994.


The former IndyCar star turned a fast lap of 49.250 seconds around the high-banked speedway, averaging 182.741 mph. Trevor Bayne qualified second, followed by Elliott Sadler, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Austin Dillon.


Patrick is entering her first full-time season in the Nationwide Series, driving for JR Motorsports and team owner Earnhardt Jr. She also is making her Sprint Cup debut in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.


Fisher gets engine deal


Sarah Fisher finally found an engine deal for her IndyCar team, signing with Honda for the 2012 season.


Fisher’s team will field a car for rookie Josef Newgarden. The season begins with the Grand Prix of St. Petersburg on March 25.


Fisher thanked fellow team owner Bobby Rahal for helping the deal come together. Rahal originally had the rights to two Honda engine lease agreements this season but only plans to field one car. By giving up the rights to a second engine, Rahal opened the door for Fisher’s team to resolve its uncertain engine situation.


Fisher says Rahal “personified the definition of a gentleman and sportsman.” Fisher helped out Rahal’s son, Graham, by allowing him to race her car for four races in 2010.