GM could not have asked for a better coming-out party for its new high-performance Chevrolet SS.
On Sunday at the Daytona 500, the nation’s eyes will be on Danica Patrick as she attempts to make history as the first woman to win The Great American Race. Already she is the first female driver to win the pole position for a NASCAR Sprint Cup race, with a qualifying lap speed of 196.434 mph. And she did it behind the wheel of a bright-green Chevy SS, one of a new generation of NASCAR racers that was unveiled only a week ago.
“It’s kind of a fairy tale,” said Chevrolet spokesman Michael Albano. “To have her on the pole for the car’s inaugural race, we couldn’t have written it any better.”
The history-making potential has racing experts predicting the largest TV audience in years for the premier NASCAR Sprint Cup event, the Super Bowl of stock car racing.
Of course, Patrick is already well-known to Super Bowl watchers because of her sexy commercials for sponsor GoDaddy.com. But she already owned the spotlight for years when she competed in the IndyCar Series. And her new romance with fellow Sprint Cup rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. has only spiced up the storyline behind the Danica 500.
Her chances of winning Sunday’s race are low. Only nine of Daytona’s 54 previous pole winners (17 percent) have gone on to take the checkered flag.
But for Chevrolet, it doesn’t matter. Even if she comes in last, GM wins because of the extra exposure for the SS and the rest of the Chevy lineup, including the Camaro and the newly redesigned Corvette. Seven of the race’s top nine starters will be driving Chevrolet SS race cars. And the production version of the 2014 Chevy SS will be the official pace car, leading an all-Chevrolet front row to the green flag.
Consumers will be able to buy the new SS later this year. With a 415-hp V8 engine, the SS is the first rear wheel drive performance sports sedan in 17 years. Back then, a 13-year-old Danica Patrick was still driving Go-Karts.