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NASCAR NEWS 

Daytona 500: Jimmie Johnson beats Dale Earnhardt Jr to victory

Jimmie Johnson wins the 2013 Daytona 500Jimmie Johnson ended his run of poor Daytona 500 results by holding off Hendrick Chevrolet team-mate Dale Earnhardt Jr to win NASCAR's premier race for the second time.

Johnson was a factor near the front throughout a largely processional event, battling side by side with reigning champion Brad Keselowski's Penske Ford going into the closing stages.

As Keselowski's car, battered from previous incidents, lost ground at a late restart, Roush Fenway driver Greg Biffle and Stewart-Haas' Danica Patrick lined up to challenge Johnson.

Despite predictions that she would swiftly fall back from pole position, Patrick spent much of the race in the top three, becoming the first woman to lead the Daytona 500 along the way.

But on the final lap Patrick and Biffle were both caught out when Earnhardt and Michael Waltrip Racing's Mark Martin came surging down the inside line.

Johnson had just enough of an edge to beat his team-mate by 0.129 seconds, with Earnhardt and Martin completing the top three ahead of Keselowski.

The result was the first time Johnson had finished in the top 25 in the Daytona 500 since his 2006 win.

Patrick ended up eighth, behind Ryan Newman, Biffle and Regan Smith.

Underdogs Michael McDowell (Phil Parsons Racing) and JJ Yeley (Tommy Baldwin Racing) secured big pay days by finishing in the final top 10 spots.

Keselowski's Penske Ford sustained its damage in the two major pile-ups of the first three quarters of the race.

Duel winner Kevin Harvick and three-time champion Tony Stewart were both eliminated in the race's first multi-car crash, collected in a chain reaction after Kyle Busch tapped Kasey Kahne into a spin on lap 33.

Keselowski had a minor role in that tangle, then starred in the second on lap 139, when a touch from Trevor Bayne sent him bouncing over the grass.

Daytona 500 crashWhile the champion managed to rejoin, 2011 Daytona winner Bayne spun and took out a host of drivers including Carl Edwards and rookie Austin Dillon, who had earlier been a top-three factor.

Toyota filled the top six places heading towards the final stint, only for a string of engine failures to strike its top teams. Matt Kenseth led the most laps on his debut for Joe Gibbs Racing, but had to park just before the same fate befell team-mate Busch.

Waltrip driver Martin Truex Jr's Toyota also wilted while in the top three late on.

Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin finished 11th and 14th having earlier fought for the lead.

Jeff Gordon got around front row partner Patrick to lead at the start and stayed there until the first pitstops.

But he dropped back thereafter as he had to nurse an overheating Chevrolet, and was only 20th at the flag.

Results - 200 laps:

Pos  Driver              Team/Car                         Time/Gap
 1.  Jimmie Johnson      Hendrick Chevrolet           3h10m14.000s
 2.  Dale Earnhardt Jr   Hendrick Chevrolet               + 0.129s
 3.  Mark Martin         Waltrip Toyota                   + 0.255s
 4.  Brad Keselowski     Penske Ford                      + 0.359s
 5.  Ryan Newman         Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           + 0.477s
 6.  Greg Biffle         Roush Fenway Ford                + 0.524s
 7.  Regan Smith         Phoenix Chevrolet                + 0.626s
 8.  Danica Patrick      Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           + 0.658s
 9.  Michael McDowell    Parsons Ford                     + 0.691s
10.  JJ Yeley            Baldwin Chevrolet                + 0.731s
11.  Clint Bowyer        Waltrip Toyota                   + 0.827s
12.  Ricky Stenhouse Jr  Roush Fenway Ford                + 1.176s
13.  Aric Almirola       Petty Ford                       + 1.198s
14.  Denny Hamlin        Gibbs Toyota                     + 1.279s
15.  Bobby Labonte       JTG Daugherty Toyota             + 1.542s
16.  David Reutimann     BK Toyota                        + 2.273s
17.  Dave Blaney         Baldwin Chevrolet                + 5.306s
18.  Marcos Ambrose      Petty Ford                       + 8.581s
19.  Joey Logano         Penske Ford                      + 9.266s
20.  Jeff Gordon         Hendrick Chevrolet              + 11.216s
21.  Paul Menard         Childress Chevrolet             + 18.220s
22.  Michael Waltrip     Swan Toyota                     + 19.788s
23.  Scott Speed         Leavine Ford                    + 20.714s
24.  Martin Truex Jr     Waltrip Toyota                  + 24.753s
25.  Travis Kvapil       BK Toyota                         + 1 lap
26.  Terry Labonte       FAS Lane Ford                     + 1 lap
27.  Trevor Bayne        Wood Brothers Ford               + 2 laps
28.  Kurt Busch          Furniture Row Chevrolet          + 2 laps
29.  Casey Mears         Germain Ford                    + 18 laps
30.  Jeff Burton         Childress Chevrolet             + 24 laps*
31.  Austin Dillon       Childress Chevrolet             + 24 laps
32.  Jamie McMurray      Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet     + 38 laps
33.  Carl Edwards        Roush Fenway Ford               + 40 laps

* Not running at chequered flag

Retirements:

     Kyle Busch          Gibbs Toyota                     151 laps
     David Ragan         Front Row Ford                   150 laps
     Kasey Kahne         Hendrick Chevrolet               150 laps**
     Matt Kenseth        Gibbs Toyota                     149 laps
     David Gilliland     Front Row Ford                   144 laps
     Juan Pablo Montoya  Earnhardt Ganassi Chevrolet      144 laps**
     Josh Wise           Front Row Ford                   137 laps
     Tony Stewart        Stewart-Haas Chevrolet           118 laps**
     Kevin Harvick       Childress Chevrolet               47 laps
     Joe Nemechek        NEMCO Toyota                      42 laps

** Running again at chequered flag
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