Jimmie Johnson wins Daytona 500; Danica Patrick finishes 8th

Posted at 5:09 PM, Feb 24, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-24 17:10:37-05

(CNN) – Jimmie Johnson won the Daytona 500, the season-opening and most prestigious race of the NASCAR season, on Sunday at the Daytona International Speedway.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second for the third time in four years.

Danica Patrick, the first woman to win the pole position at the Daytona 500, led three times, including five laps under green — also becoming the first woman to lead a lap at the race not under a yellow flag caution. She finished eighth, the highest finish ever for a female driver at the race.

Fan video shows debris flying into stands in massive Daytona crash (Warning: graphic language)

“At the end of the day it was a solid day,” she said. “We stayed basically in the top 10 all day so it was nice.”

Some of the fans who were injured by flying debris Saturday during a crash late in the Nationwide Series Drive4COPD 300 were to attend the Daytona 500, speedway president Joie Chitwood said Sunday morning.

At least 28 fans were injured when more than a dozen cars piled up in the final curve of Saturday’s race. Some of the debris went over a 22-foot-high fence that was built in 2010, and some of it went through holes as the fence mangled when a car slammed into it and bounced back onto the track.

Saturday’s wreck occurred when several closely packed cars were jostling for position at top speeds of about 175 mph. They got tangled up, setting off a dangerous chain reaction that ensnared a number of vehicles.

Driver Kyle Larson’s vehicle ended up flying into a fence that separates the track from spectators. The car broke into pieces, including tires and a fiery engine.

Larson walked away from the crash, even after the front part of his No. 32 car was gone. He and the other nine drivers involved told reporters that they were checked at a medical tent on the Daytona infield and released.