Equally important to mention here is that Patrick's winning speed (196.434 mph) is the fastest at Daytona since Dale Jarrett's 196.498 mph won the 500 pole in 1995.
I want to feel elated, proud and empowered by Patrick's impressive accomplishment. Instead, I feel deflated, irritated and agitated by the way some folks are attempting to characterize Patrick's pole victory in the larger context of gender equality in sports.
There is a false belief that's long existed in the minds of sports fans and people in general as it relates to women and accomplishment. It's that a woman's work is only credible and worthy of recognition when it's superior or equal to that of a man's.
Many of us accept this view as truth and pass a belief to our daughters -- that being the best only counts when you're the best among boys.
I saw it when we discussed the merits of the UConn women's basketball winning streak. I saw it when we debated whether Pat Summitt deserved to be called the best college coach because she amassed her wins in women's basketball. I saw it when we asked Annika Sorenstam to prove how good of a golfer she was by "playing against the boys."
And I saw it ever so clearly when a male friend of mine posted this comment on Facebook regarding Patrick's achievement:
"Danica is competing against MEN! Hello?? Greatest accomplishment for a female athlete ever if she wins."
This is what passes for a compliment toward female athletes these days.
Patrick is a very good driver who has garnered great media attention largely for the fact that she is unapologetically using her looks to garner corporate sponsorship in a sport where big money is a necessity to remain competitive.
Corporate sponsorship is the name of the NASCAR hustle. Don't hate the player; hate the game.
I'm glad to see Patrick earn some deserved recognition for her talent and would love to see her win the marquee event in her sport.
And should she achieve that marvelous feat, I'd proudly salute her. But I will not encourage or endorse any viewpoint that suggests for anyone to elevate Patrick's single event win as the greatest accomplishment by a woman in a sport simply because she's racing cars against men.
That's an insulting and unfair view to athletes like Serena Williams.
She single-handedly rewrote the rules of age in tennis by becoming the oldest No. 1 women's player in the world this week since WTA started rankings in 1975. Williams won two grand slams in 2012 after overcoming a debilitating illness. And her career prize earnings rank among the top 10 of all-time among all tennis players, which is a tribute to her and her sister Venus, who fought for all women to get equal pay in competitive tennis.
Oh, and she has more than one career win.
It is a woefully misguided ideology to suggest to little girls and young women in sports that their work has little value if it's not measured against their male counterparts.
I don't believe this advances gender equality, and it certainly doesn't edify women.
There have been several amazing feats in sports by women on and off the field -- and in boardrooms, too, where women work hard to be great at what they do.
Patrick, even for her questionable marketing moves, is certainly among those. And I hope little girls can be inspired by her talent.
But with all due respect to Patrick, her career accomplishments are just one chapter in a larger, wonderful story about women aspiring for greatness in sport.
Winning should not be measured by the gender of one's opponent. It should be respected for the result.