Guthrie congratulates Patrick on Daytona pole

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Gordon said NASCAR was one of many sports where views toward women and minorities have grown over the decades.

“It’s not about the color of your skin or your gender, it’s about your abilities,” Gordon said. “You have to prove that. I think Danica’s a talented race car driver.”

Guthrie raced in 33 Cup races and made 11 IndyCar stars over five years. And while she said her racing career was mostly viewed with “absolute heresy” by men, she did have her backers. Well, as long as she kept them quiet.

“I soon learned not to acknowledge them publicly, because if I thanked them, and that got into the newspaper, the next day they wouldn’t speak to me,” she said. “It was a completely different thing. Danica’s been driving NASCAR for three years or something like that. All the guys know how she drives by now and that’s 95 percent of the battle right there.”

The next step is sparking the desire to race in other little girls. The new generation never followed Guthrie. She was skeptical Patrick could usher in a generation of female racers.

“There’s so many talented women drivers out there that do not have access to the kind of machinery that Danica has,” he said. “I think if they had top-notch equipment, they might be capable of doing the same type of thing.”

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Follow Dan Gelston online: https://twitter.com/APGelston and http://racing.ap.org

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