We all know Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 narrowly beating Dale Earnhardt Jr. who came in a strong second but let’s face it we all know who really won.

Danica Patrick was not just the “woman” to watch – she was the driver that many of us wanted to win.  It was because of Danica the ratings for the Daytona 500 were up 24% from last year and the average rating for women between the ages of 18 and 34 grew by 16 percent.

The best thing about the race was it didn’t matter if you were an avid fan or enjoying it for the first time you were intrigued.  Let’s face it anytime a woman purposely challenges anything male dominated it draws the attention and interest of everyone.  You can’t get any manlier than race car driving.

In 2005, Danica became the fourth woman to compete in the Indy 500 following Janet Guthrie, Lyn St. James and Sarah Fisher.  By 2012, she joined Guthrie as one of only two women to have competed in both the Indy 500 and the Daytona 500.

During this year’s Daytona 500 Danica became the first woman to start from the pole position.  She also made history by leading twice for a total of five laps in the 200-lap race on the way to finishing eighth – yet another record.

Yes the guys were all there – Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski to name a few.  But on the day of this year’s Daytona 500 the guy that kicked everything off and walked away the true winner – her name was Danica.