Source: Agencies | 2013-2-26 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
Danica Patrick gets ready to race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 race at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida, on Sunday.
Photo by Reuters
DANICA Patrick made history up front at the Daytona 500 on Sunday, only to see Jimmie Johnson make a late push ahead of her and reclaim his spot at the top of his sport.
It was the second Daytona victory for Johnson, a five-time NASCAR champion who first won "The Great American Race" in 2006.
Patrick, the first woman to win the pole, also became the first woman to lead the race. She was running third on the last lap, but faded to eighth at the finish.
There were several crashes during the race, 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 raced past defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart and pulled out to a sizable lead that nobody challenged over the final six laps.
Dale Earnhardt Jr settled for second as Hendrick Motorsports 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 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. You spend a lot of time thinking what to do when the opportunity comes."
Patrick became the first woman in history to lead laps in the 500 when she passed Michael Waltrip on a restart on Lap 90. She stayed on the point for two laps, then was shuffled back to third. She ended up leading five laps, another groundbreaking moment for Patrick, who in 2005 as a rookie was the first woman to lead the Indianapolis 500.