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Second Daytona 500 perfect start for Johnson

Biffle over-thought things at the restart and ended up backing into Danica Patrick, who lost momentum as a result and dropped back to a still-creditable eighth place by the end of the race. That had given Earnhardt his opportunity to move into a strong second place backed by Mark Martin, with Brad Keselowski having to settle for fourth place ahead of Ryan Newman and Greg Biffle.

Overall it had been a remarkably calm and straightforward Great American Race, the new Generation 6 cars dispensing with the widely loathed two-car drafting scenario but lending itself instead to a single-file procession. The situation was possibly exacerbated by the drivers being mindful of the previous day's emotional drama at the end of the Nationwide support race which saw 28 spectators injured in a final lap crash.

"I just want to send my thoughts and prayers out to everyone that was injured yesterday and I hope they are healing up and doing well," said Johnson after the Sunday race. "I just want to give a big shout-out to all the fans."

As a result there was no such equivalent 'Big One' on Sunday, and everyone seemed to breath a little easier at the restraint shown, even if meant for a slightly less than thrilling opening to the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup championship.

Meanwhile, Johnson certainly knows that as perfect a start to the season as this has been for him, it is only the first very small step on the road toward his hoped-for sixth Sprint Cup championship, and that a whole lot more work lies ahead of him.

"Next week is a whole different game," he said, looking forward to the second race of the season on Phoenix. "We will have to make sure we are buttoned up and ready to go there."




Related Pictures

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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)
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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)
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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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