By Simon Evans
DAYTONA BEACH, Florida (Reuters) - Five-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and debutant Danica Patrick were involved in a five-car crash on the second lap of the Daytona 500 on Monday that ended their chances of glory early.
After the race was postponed from Sunday due to rain, then delayed by seven hours on Monday, the NASCAR season opener finally got away under lights and there was instant drama.
The accident happened when Elliott Sadler pushed into the back of Johnson who spun around with chaotic results in the tightly-packed field.
"I'm just really, really bummed to start the season this way," Johnson said.
"For all the hard work that has gone into getting this car ready for tonight, we didn't get to complete two and a half miles of green flag racing."
Patrick, just the third woman to race in the 'Great American Race', was caught in the backwash. She returned to the garage to try and repair the damage. It was her third crash of the week.
Last year's winner Trevor Bayne, Kurt Busch and David Ragan also went off the track.
"It is ridiculous to sit around this long for the Daytona and on the very first lap for someone to be driving as reckless as whoever caused that, someone had to cause it," said Ragan.
"It is just a shame for it to be that early in the biggest race...I can't wait to see who was the bonehead that did that."
(Editing by Julian Linden)