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Danica crashes on Lap 2; JJ knocked out
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.
Danica Patrick's much-awaited, highly-hyped NASCAR debut took a hit only two laps into Monday's rain-postponed, primetime Daytona 500.
Her No. 10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet was involved in a six-car chain reaction accident that eliminated five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson from the race and sent the other five cars — including defending Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne’s and Patrick's — to the Daytona International Speedway's garage for extensive repairs.
The accident was triggered when Elliott Sadler's Chevrolet hit Johnson's Chevy from behind on the frontstretch just as they had completed the second lap of the 200-lap event. Patrick dove low, made contact with David Ragan as the cars bunched up and both of them hit Johnson's hobbled car before careening into the infield as the field scattered.
It was Patrick’s third wreck in as many races during the season-opening Speedweeks but none of them were of her own doing — she was collected in multicar accidents each time.
Patrick’s crew worked furiously on the front end and left side of her car and she returned to the track an hour later, 62 laps down and ultimately finished 38th.
“Any lap I turn is progression, for sure,’’ said Patrick, who is only the third woman in NASCAR history to start the Daytona 500.
“Was there much to gain for position (going back out so many laps down)? No. But there was a lot to gain in terms of experience for me.’’
“Honestly, I think I picked up a lot of tips. The GoDaddy car did finish the race, just in that darn 38th position.’’
Patrick’s next Sprint Cup Series race is May 12 at Darlington, SC. She will compete in 10 Cup races in addition to campaigning for the 2012 Nationwide Series championship before her expected move full-time to Cup in 2013.
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