Florida: Five-times NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and debutant Danica Patrick were involved in a five-car crash on the second lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday that put an end to their chances of glory.
The NASCAR season opener, which was postponed from Sunday due to rain, was delayed a further seven hours on Monday but when it finally got going under the lights there was instant drama.
The accident happened when Elliott Sadler pushed into the back of Johnson, who spun around with chaotic results in the tightly-packed field.
Patrick, just the third woman to compete in the `Great American Race`, was caught in the backwash. She returned to the garage to repair the damage after her third crash of the week and returned in lap 66.
Although she is not running a full schedule in the Sprint Cup and so points are of little importance, Patrick clearly wanted to gain some more experience in a top NASCAR race after switching full-time from IndyCar racing this season.
Johnson, who won the 500 in 2006, was unable to get back on the track and was left frustrated on the sidelines.
"I`m just really, really bummed to start the season this way," Johnson said.
"For all the hard work that has gone into getting this car ready for tonight, we didn`t get to complete two and a half miles of green flag racing."
Last year`s winner Trevor Bayne, Kurt Busch and David Ragan also went off the track.
"It is ridiculous to sit around this long for the Daytona and on the very first lap for someone to be driving as reckless as whoever caused that, someone had to cause it," said Ragan.
"It is just a shame for it to be that early in the biggest race...I can`t wait to see who was the bonehead that did that."
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