The Free Press, Mankato, MN

State, national news

February 24, 2013

Jimmie Johnson wins 2nd Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — A big first for Danica Patrick, but an even bigger second for Jimmie Johnson.

Patrick made history up front at the Daytona 500 Sunday, only to see Johnson make a late push ahead of her and reclaim his spot at the top of his sport.

It was the second Daytona 500 victory for Johnson, a five-time NASCAR champion who first won "The Great American Race" in 2006.

"There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500. I'm a very lucky man to have won it twice," said Johnson, who won in his 400th career start. "I'm very honored to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport."

It comes a year after Johnson completed only one lap in the race because of a wreck that also collected Patrick, and just three months after Johnson lost his bid for a sixth Sprint Cup title to go two years without a championship after winning five straight.

Although he didn't think he needed to send a message to his competitors — "I don't think we went anywhere; anybody in the garage area, they're wise to all that," Johnson said — the win showed the No. 48 team is tired of coming up short after all those years of dominance.

"Definitely a great start for the team. When we were sitting discussing things before the season started, we felt good about the 500," Johnson said, "but we're really excited for everything after the 500. I think it's going to be a very strong year for us."

Patrick is hoping for her own success after a history-making race.

The first woman to win the pole, Patrick also became the first woman to lead the race. She ran inside the top 10 almost the entire race, kept pace with the field and never panicked on the track.

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