DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Danica Patrick twice held the lead during today's Daytona 500. Jimmie Johnson had it when it mattered most.
Johnson pulled ahead of defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart and captured his second Daytona 500. The five-time Sprint Cup champion wasn't really challenged over the final six laps. Dale Earnhardt Jr., the 2004 Daytona 500 winner, finished second for the third time in the last four season-opening races.
Mark Martin was third, followed by Keselowski.
Patrick began the race as the first female pole-sitter and became the first woman to lead laps in the season-opening Cup event. She was in front for five laps along the way and sat third on the last lap before getting shuffled back to an eighth-place finish. It's the best showing by a woman in the history of the Great American Race.
Defending champ Matt Kenseth had led more laps than anyone when 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.
There were several crashes during the race but none approached the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans a day earlier in a second-tier race on the same track.