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Danica Patrick not satisfied with Daytona finish

Monday - 2/25/2013, 7:30am  ET

Danica Patrick, center, prepares to get in her car before the start of the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup Series auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2013, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/Terry Renna)

The Associated Press

Danica Patrick turned in the best finish by a woman in the Daytona 500.

Still, she's beating herself up a little bit after fading on the final lap.

With one lap to go, Patrick was running third behind Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. The crowd was going nuts, hoping the pole-sitter could somehow pull out an improbable win.

All of a sudden, Patrick's inexperience in stock cars showed as her No. 10 car slipped back to eighth. Johnson held off Earnhardt to win the Great American Race.

"I would imagine pretty much anyone would be kicking themselves about what they coulda, shoulda have done to give themselves an opportunity to win," she said. "There was uncertainty on how to accomplish that."

Patrick led three times for a total of five laps, and she ran in the top 10 most of the day. It wasn't that strenuous, either, giving her a time to chat on the radio with her crew chief and spotter, picking their brains on strategy at the end of the race.

"How am I gonna do this?" Patrick recalled thinking. "I didn't know what to do exactly. Maybe that's just my inexperience. Maybe it was not me thinking hard enough. I'm not sure. I was a little bit uncertain how to do that."

Before Sunday, Janet Guthrie was the highest-finishing woman in the 500. She was 11th in 1980.

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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JIMMIE THE SALESMAN: Jimmie Johnson is a heck of a driver.

He's not a bad salesman, either.

After winning the Daytona 500 for the second time, Johnson gave a shoutout to his sponsor Lowe's, the home improvement chain.

"Spring's coming," the five-time Cup champion said. "Go buy some stuff."

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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JOHNSON WINS THE 500: Jimmie Johnson has won the Daytona 500 for the second time.

Johnson held off Dale Earnhardt Jr. to become the 10th driver with multiple wins in "The Great American Race."

Danica Patrick was running third heading to the final lap, but she dropped back to eighth as everyone jostled for position.

Still, it was the highest finish ever for a woman in NASCAR's signature event. Janet Guthrie finished 11th in 1980.

Johnson, a five-time champion, also won the 500 in 2006. But he's had some tough finishes in recent years, including a 42nd-place flameout in 2012.

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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RACE TO THE END: The Daytona 500 is heading for a thrilling finish.

Jimmie Johnson leads and Danica Patrick is still in the mix after a late caution flag for debris on the track in turn two.

When the green flag came out with six laps to go, Johnson was followed by defending Cup champion Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer. Patrick is running sixth.

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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DOWN THE STRETCH: Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski leads the Daytona 500 with 20 laps to go.

He's followed by Jimmie Johnson, Marcus Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick.

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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KENSETH OUT: There won't be a repeat winner at the Daytona 500.

Defending champ Matt Kenseth had led more laps than anyone when, suddenly, his car began smoking on lap 149. He headed to pit road and it didn't take long for the crew to push him behind the wall, ruining any hopes of becoming the first back-to-back winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

Kenseth and his new teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, were actually running 1-2-3 when Kenseth had some sort of engine or transmission problem. Just two laps later, Busch's car also went out, smoking as well, sending the driver of the No. 18 machine storming through the garage, ripping off his racesuit.

"It's really unfortunate," Busch said. "We were running 1-2-3 and it felt like we were dropping like flies. Something inside the motor broke that's not supposed to break. It's a little devastating when you're running 1-2-3 like that. Hopefully the No. 11 (Hamlin) can bring it home."

-- Paul Newberry -- http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963

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EDWARDS' TOUGH MONTH: No one will be more eager than Carl Edwards to get out of Daytona.

The No. 99 team had a brutal month leading up to the NASCAR season opener, wrecking four times.

Make it five.

Edwards was caught up in a crash heading into turn one at the Daytona 500, another case of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Trevor Bayne bumped Brad Keselowski from behind, which sent the No. 21 car sliding sideways.

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