Posted on February 24, 2013 at 5:31 PM
Danica Patrick made history out front at the Daytona 500, only to see the five-time NASCAR champion reclaim his spot at the top in the end.
Johnson won his second Daytona 500 with a late push on Sunday, grabbing the spotlight from Patrick as she faded on the final lap. Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in "The Great American Race" and was running third on the last lap, but slipped to eighth in the late push for position.
Her fall began when Dale Earnhardt Jr. made his move, but his last-ditch effort wasn't enough to catch his Hendrick Motorsports teammate.
There were several crashes during the day, none approaching the magnitude of the wreck that injured more than two dozen fans a day earlier in a second-tier race on the same track.
Johnson, who raced past defending NASCAR championBrad Keselowski on the final restart, had pulled out to a sizable lead and nobody could catch him. He wasn't challenged over the final six laps and cruised and added another 500 title to go with his 2006 victory.
This time crew chief Chad Knaus can enjoy it -- he was suspended by NASCAR for the first victory.
Earnhardt Jr. settled for second as Hendrick drivers went 1-2 in the new Chevrolet SS. Mark Martin was third in a Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota.
Keselowski, who overcame two accidents earlier in the race, wound up fourth in the new Ford that Penske Racing is fielding this year.
Patrick, the first woman to start from the pole at NASCAR's top level, was clearly disappointed with her finish. But she admitted she wasn't sure what move to make if she was going to try for the win.
"You know I kept thinking about it the whole time," she said. "You spend a lot of time thinking about what you're going to when that opportunity."