Danica Patrick alongside her #10 GoDaddy.com Chevy at Daytona International Speedway (Getty Images)

Expect this year’s Daytona 500 to be the most-watched in its history. Why? Because a woman will be leading the way with 42 men following. Danica Patrick made NASCAR history over the weekend by becoming the first woman ever to win the pole for a Sprint Cup race. Not only that, she has the pole for the sport’s biggest race of the year.

Patrick ran a lap of 196.434 mph on Sunday, faster than any other car in the field to earn the top starting spot. Three-time Daytona 500 winner Jeff Gordon will be alongside her on the front row after turning a lap of 196.292 mph.

The rest of the starting lineup will be determined in Thursday’s Budweiser Duel qualifying races. Patrick and Gordon are assured spots in the front row unless they wreck their cars on Thursday or have to go to a back-up car.

Although Patrick ran 10 Sprint Cup races last year, she’s still considered a rookie, so she becomes just the third rookie to win the pole for the 500. Jimmie Johnson was the last rookie to do it in 2002.

Patrick won the pole in last year’s Nationwide race at Daytona, finishing 38th. She plans to run both races again this year.