- Associated Press - Sunday, February 17, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - NASCAR’s marketing machine is already churning.

Shortly after Danica Patrick landed the Daytona 500 pole _ an unprecedented achievement for a female driver _ the president of Daytona International Speedway started making plans to capitalize on the historic story line.

“This week, everybody’s going to be talking about Danica and they’re going to talk about the Daytona 500, and I will do my best to proliferate that message as well,” Joie Chitwood III said Sunday evening.

Chitwood said he sent an e-mail to Fox Sports president Eric Shanks to remind him what it will mean to have the popular Patrick on the pole for “The Great American Race.”

“Obviously, from a Fox perspective, it’s about viewership,” Chitwood said. “For me, it’s about publicity for the 500. I think he and I both had a good day today. That’s the beauty of sport: you never know what’s going to happen. I think we all get excited when you see history. The first woman to ever capture a pole position in Sprint Cup, that’s pretty awesome, whether it was Danica or someone else. That was historic, and I’m glad that happened at Daytona.”

Chitwood was the president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005, when Patrick led 19 laps during the Indy 500 and finished fourth. It was the highest finish ever for a female driver in the prestigious event.

“I got to be there for that historic moment,” Chitwood said. “Who knows? Maybe I’ve got a little luck in there. Track presidents, you take that title away, we were always promoters first. Promoting is about publicity and attention and getting people focused on something. This is something that helps us do that. We want every eyeball. We want every consumer showing up. We want everybody coming to the Daytona 500 because it’s our biggest event on the schedule.”

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