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Second Daytona 500 perfect start for Johnson

Jimmie Johnson lay down the championship gauntlet early, declaring his intentions to win a sixth 2013 Sprint Cup title by clinching his second Daytona 500.
Jimmie Johnson calmly worked his way to a second Daytona 500 win, his first since 2006, after early race leader Matt Kenseth suffered an engine failure and other leading contenders such as Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne all crashed out over the course of the 200-lap, 500-mile race at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

“There is no other way to start the season than to win the Daytona 500," said a delighted Johnson in victory lane after the race. "I'm a very lucky man to have won it twice." It's the first time since his 2006 win that he's even finished the event in the top 25.

"I'm very honoured to be on that trophy with all the greats that have ever been in our sport," he added. "Amazing day for myself, for this team, as the year goes we are excited!"

At the start of the race at 1.30pm local time, polesitter Danica Patrick had been unable to hold on to the race lead as the green came out and instead had to watch as Jeff Gordon took to the front for the whole of the first stint, which lasted through to the first debris caution on lap 26.

Two laps after the restart on lap 31, Gordon's Hendrick Motorsports team mate Kasey Kahne was spun out of fourth place through contact with Kyle Busch. That sparked a multi-car accident which also put Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick in the garage for an extended period along with Kahne, Casey Mears and both Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing drivers, Juan Montoya and Jamie McMurray. Brad Keselowski's #2 Penske car also sustained damage in the incident, as did Kurt Busch's #78 Furniture Row Racing car.

"We were just running the line. The front three cars, for whatever reason, slowed down pretty quickly, so I was just on the brakes and trying not to hit Jeff," explained Kahne. "I got hit from behind - Kyle was probably getting pushed and it all happened so quick."

Jimmie Johnson led at the restart but was soon moved aside by Matt Kenseth going to the front. At the end of the first quarter, Kenseth and Johnson were being pursued by Patrick, Gordon and Busch with Penske Racing new boy Joey Logano in sixth place.

A problem with the jack during a green flag pit stop on lap 72 dropped Kyle Busch out of the top 30, while Richard Petty Motorsports' Aric Almirola received a pit road speeding penalty with similar results. After the pit stop cycle concluded, Denny Hamlin was in the lead with Michael Waltrip Racing's Martin Truex Jr. after the duo had leap-frogged Kenseth, Johnson and Gordon in pit road. Greg Biffle had meanwhile deposed Logano for sixth, and Patrick was now down in eighth place.

The single-file racing was interrupted by a debris caution on lap 85 which allowed the drivers quick return to pit road. A variety of strategies for further fuel and adjustments played out: Michael Waltrip stayed out on track and was followed by Patrick, Truex, Clint Bowyer, Hamlin and Biffle, with Johnson the highest position for a car on new right side tyres.




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Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, leads Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, and the field during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet, Kevin Harvick, driver of the #29 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Miller Lite Ford, are involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Ray Lewis waves the American Ethanol green flag as Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy.com Chevrolet, and Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, lead the field to start the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Carl Edwards, driver of the #99 Fastenal Ford, Trevor Bayne, driver of the #21 Motorcraft/Quick Lane Tire & Auto Center Ford, Terry Labonte, driver of the #32 C&J Energy Services Ford, David Ragan, driver of the #34 Detail Doctor Ford, and David Gilliland, driver of the #38 Love`s Travel Stops Ford,during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Tom Pennington/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.CPL Steven R. Koch, US Army, is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Landon Cassill, driver of the #40 Snap Fitness Chevrolet, drives through the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, sits in his car prior to practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. Johnson’s car features Army 1st Lt. Robert L. Henderson II as part of the 600 Miles of Rememberance.  (Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Skittles Toyota, stands on the grid prior to qualifying for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
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Matt Kenseth, driver of the #20 DeWalt Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 21, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. HM3 James R Layton is honored on the car as part of the 600 Miles of Remembrance program. (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 16, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo Credit: Photo by Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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