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Danica Patrick: How did she finish in 2012 Daytona 500?

Danica Patrick was in a five-car crash in the second lap. Danica Patrick didn't get back into the Daytona 500 until the 66th lap.

By Simon EvansReuters / February 28, 2012

Danica Patrick stand by her car before the NASCAR Daytona 500 Sprint Cup series auto race at Daytona Beach, Fla., Monday, Feb. 27, 2012.

(AP Photo/John Raoux)

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Daytona Beach, Fla.

Danica Patrick's Daytona 500 debut was practically over within two laps but she got back on track to finish as just the third woman to race NASCAR's top event.

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Patrick's car was damaged as she spun off the track on the second circuit when she was caught up in a five-car crash and she had to return to the garage.

By the time the car was ready to rejoin the action, the race had reached the 66th lap and with Patrick not eligible for championship points due to her limited schedule there was nothing competitive to race for.

However, Patrick was sure she could get something out of getting back involved in the pack.

"People were working hard to get me back on the track. Was there much to gain as far as position wise? No. But what there was to gain was for me to get the experience of running out there," she told reporters after finishing in 38th place.

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"I ran in packs for a little while, the car was a little bent-up so it didn't feel perfect. As it got later and later in the race, I just didn't want to play a part, didn't want to have an influence on it," she added.

There was little Patrick could do to avoid the collision which also put out five-times NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and last year's winner Trevor Bayne.

"I think that I picked up a lot of good tips but I just wish that the beginning of the race had been a nice single file like it was when I got back out there but it wasn't," she said.

Patrick will compete fully in NASCAR's second tier Nationwide series as well as ten top Sprint Cup races after switching over from open-wheel IndyCar racing.

Her presence in the field caused one slight adjustment to the normal Daytona 500 protocol with the race starter's announcement altered to "Lady and Gentlemen, start your engines".

Matt Kenseth held off Dale Earnhardt Jr and team mate Greg Biffle to win the race, leaving his rivals frustrated at their inability to sneak past him in the final laps.

Earnhardt narrowly missed out on a chance of a second Daytona 500 win as he was held off by Biffle, Kenseth's Roush-Fenway team-mate, for several laps before making a late burst into second.

The victory, with a green-white-checker finish adding two laps to the race, was Kenseth's second Daytona win following his triumph in a shortened, rain-affected event in 2009. "It feels great, we even went overtime a little bit since we didn't quite go the whole distance the first time we won it," Kenseth told reporters after celebrating in Victory Lane.

"We had a really fast car all day and had a lot of adversity to overcome, a lot of problems with the car. We were able to get it figured out and had a great pit stop at the end that put us in position and it feels great.

(Editing by John O'Brien)

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