Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500 today with pole sitter Danica Patrick's bid to become the first woman to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup race ending in an eighth-placed finish.
Johnson held off a last-lap charge from Dale Earnhardt jnr at Daytona International Speedway to win "The Great American Race'' for the second time. Mark Martin was third.
Patrick, already the first woman to earn pole position for a race in NASCAR's elite series, grabbed another slice of racing history when she became the first woman to lead a lap of the Daytona 500.
Her quest for history was in the spotlight all day. Even grand marshall James Franco took note calling at the start: "Drivers - and Danica - start your engines!''.
Jeff Gordon, starting beside her on the front row, seized the lead on the first lap but, when Patrick moved to the front on the 90th, it was to a huge ovation from the crowd. She ran in front for a total of six laps.
Johnson emerged from the pack after a tense restart from a caution with six laps remaining and held on to add a second Daytona title to the one he captured in 2006.