Jimmie Johnson Wins Daytona 500, Danica Patrick Finishes Eighth
After a day filled with six caution flags, a few multi-car wrecks and history-making lead laps, one of the most notable drivers of the last ten years walked away with the victory in NASCAR’s “Super Bowl.” After starting the race in ninth and jumping around the leader-board all day long, Jimmie Johnson took the lead from Brad Keselowski on a restart with six laps to go and went on to his second Daytona 500 victory.
After passing Keselowski during the restart, Johnson was relatively unchallenged the rest of the way, despite a big challenge from a pack of drivers led by Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the final two turns. Despite his driver taking home the Harley J. Earl Trophy for a second time, this was the first time for crew chief Chad Knaus, who was suspended during Johnson’s first victory in 2006.
The big story entering the race was the pole-sitter Danica Patrick, who accomplished two more feats during the race: first woman to ever lead a lap of the Daytona 500 under the green flag, and her eighth-place finish will go down as the best ever for any female driver in the 55-year history of “The Great American Race.” Patrick spent most of the day bobbing up and down the Top Ten and was third entering the final lap, before losing ground in the final two turns of the race.
Brad Keselowski, the defending champion in the Sprint Cup Series, finished the race in fourth, behind Mark Martin and ahead of Ryan Newman. Other notable drivers finishing in the Top Twenty were Clint Bowyer (11th), Denny Hamlin (14th), Joey Logano (19th) and Jeff Gordon (20th).
The second race of the 2013 season will be next Sunday (March 3) at Phoenix International Raceway, start time of 3:00 p.m. EST.