Race driver, model, actress, and now the romantic interest of an NFL quarterback Danica Patrick took her talents to NASCAR from the world of open wheel racing 8 years ago. She wasn't the first woman to run with the boys. She won't be the last. However, she will be known more for her driving ability and the way she carried herself than her gender.

This is evidenced by this Tweet from seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson.

The young lady that Danica is holding is one of Jimmie Johnson's daughters and the message within the Tweet seems to be very heartfelt and genuine. If anyone ever wondered how the other drivers felt racing with Danica, I think we've found the answer.

Patrick's Daytona 500 was cut short on Sunday when she was involved in a multi-car crash in the late stages of the race. That crash ended her day and earned for her a 35th place finish in the Great American Race. 

Danica has one more race to run in her professional driving career. She will return to Indianapolis in May in hopes of making her final race the legendary Indy 500. I think Danica is more than talented enough to win at Indy. I thought she was more than talented enough to win in NASCAR although she never did.

Where I do think she will always be considered a winner is in the manner in which she broke fresh ground for women in a male-dominated sport. She never backed off and she never backed down. She raced a clean race and by all indications more than earned the respect of her competitors. Her actions on track and off the track have also earned her the respect of many race fans and fathers of little girls like me.