Jimmie Johnson wins Daytona 500 for 2nd time

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 24, 2013 at 4:35 pm •  Published: February 24, 2013
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Danica Patrick turned in the best finish ever by a woman in the Daytona 500.

Still, she's beating herself up a little bit after fading on the final lap.

With one lap to go, Patrick was running third behind Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The crowd was going nuts, hoping the pole-sitter could somehow pull out an improbable win.

All of a sudden, Patrick's inexperience in stock cars showed as her No. 10 car slipped back to eighth. Johnson held off Earnhardt to win the Great American Race.

"I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win," she said. "There was uncertainty on how to accomplish that."

Patrick led three times for a total of five laps, and she ran in the top 10 most of the day. It wasn't that strenuous, either, giving her a time to chat on the radio with her crew chief and spotter, picking their brains on strategy at the end of the race.

"How am I gonna do this?" Patrick recalled thinking. "I didn't know what to do exactly. Maybe that's just my inexperience. Maybe it was not me thinking hard enough. I'm not sure. I was a little bit uncertain how to do that."

Before Sunday, Janet Guthrie was the highest-finishing woman in the 500. She was 11th in 1980.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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JIMMIE THE SALESMAN: Jimmie Johnson is a heck of a driver.

He's not a bad salesman, either.

After winning the Daytona 500 for the second time, Johnson gave a shoutout to his sponsor Lowe's, the home improvement chain.

"Spring's coming," the five-time Cup champion said. "Go buy some stuff."

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

JOHNSON WINS THE 500: Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500 for the second time.

Johnson held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to become the 10th driver with multiple wins in "The Great American Race."

Danica Patrick was running third heading to the final lap, but she dropped back to eighth as everyone jostled for position.

Still, it was the highest finish ever for a woman in NASCAR's signature event. Janet Guthrie finished 11th in 1980.

Johnson, a five-time champion, also won the 500 in 2006. But he's had some tough finishes in recent years, including a 42nd-place flameout in 2012.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

RACE TO THE END: The Daytona 500 is heading for a thrilling finish.

Jimmie Johnson leads and Danica Patrick is still in the mix after a late caution flag for debris on the track in turn two.

When the green flag came out with six laps to go, Johnson was followed by defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer. Patrick is running sixth.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

DOWN THE STRETCH: Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski leads the Daytona 500 with 20 laps to go.

He's followed by Jimmie Johnson, Marcus Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

KENSETH OUT: There won't be a repeat winner at the Daytona 500.

Defending champ Matt Kenseth had led more laps than anyone when, suddenly, his car began smoking on lap 149. He headed to pit road and it didn't take long for the crew to push him behind the wall, ruining any hopes of becoming the first back-to-back winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

Kenseth and his new teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, were actually running 1-2-3 when Kenseth had some sort of engine or transmission problem. Just two laps later, Busch's car also went out, smoking as well, sending the driver of the No. 18 machine storming through the garage, ripping off his racesuit.

"It's really unfortunate," Busch said. "We were running 1-2-3 and it felt like we were dropping like flies. Something inside the motor broke that's not supposed to break. It's a little devastating when you're running 1-2-3 like that. Hopefully the No. 11 (Hamlin) can bring it home."

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

EDWARDS' TOUGH MONTH: No one will be more eager than Carl Edwards to get out of Daytona.

The No. 99 team had a brutal month leading up to the NASCAR season opener, wrecking four times.

Make it five.

Edwards was caught up in a crash heading into turn one at the Daytona 500, another case of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Trevor Bayne bumped Brad Keselowski from behind, which sent the No. 21 car sliding sideways.

With nowhere to go, Edwards was sent into the outside wall.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

SMOKE STEAMS: Tony Stewart has returned to the track at the Daytona 500.

But he's pretty much assured of going 0-for-15 in NASCAR's biggest race.

Stewart was 82 laps behind the leaders when he rolled out of the garage after an early crash. His frustration was never more evident than when he joined in the repair effort, banging on his No. 14 car with a hammer during the long stint in the paddock.

"To hell with the season," Stewart said. "I wanted to win the Daytona 500. We had a car that we could pass with today. We were passing cars by ourselves. I was so happy with our car, was just waiting for it to all get sorted out again. I don't know what started it, but we just got caught up in another wreck."

Stewart's misfortune came a day after he won the lower-division Nationwide race — his 19th career triumph at Daytona.

None of them have come in the race he really wants.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

FAMILIAR SPOT: Matt Kenseth is back in a familiar spot.

Leading the Daytona 500.

Kenseth was running out front at the 100-lap mark, halfway through the biggest NASCAR race of the season.

While there's nothing unusual about Kenseth leading at Daytona, where he's won two of the last three years, it's a bit jarring to see him doing it in the No. 20 car.

Kenseth had spent his entire Cup career driving the No. 17 machine for Roush Fenway Racing, but he switched to Joe Gibbs Racing this season. He's got a new car, a new number, a new sponsor and a new team.

But he still knows how to run strong at Daytona.

— Paul Newberry — http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

___

DANICAMANIA: Danica Patrick keeps making history.

The first woman to start from the pole at the Daytona 500 has become the first female to lead a lap in a NASCAR Cup race.

Patrick sent the huge crowd into a frenzy when she snatched the lead from Michael Waltrip on lap 90 after a series of pit stops under yellow. She led two laps before Denny Hamlin surged to the front.

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