Daytona 500 Results: Drivers Who Exceeded Expectations in Great American Race

Michael DulkaContributor IFebruary 26, 2013

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 24: Greg Biffle, driver of the #16 3M FordMobil 1/Burger King, and Danica Patrick, driver of the #10 Chevrolet, race during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 24, 2013 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

The Daytona 500 opened up NASCAR's Spring Cup Series in an exciting race on Sunday. Jimmie Johnson's victory highlighted the highly anticipated and entertaining race. 

The race was an excellent opener and provided a great foundation for what should be an entertaining season of racing. Many top drivers were prevented from finishing as multiple wrecks stole the day. For those that were able to finish, some lived up to expectations while others either exceeded or fell below them.

Here are some of the drivers that definitely exceeded their pre-race expectations.

Danica Patrick 

Danica Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap at the Daytona 500 and had the best ever finish by a woman. Finishing eighth is quite the accomplishment for Patrick, who is continuing to break down barriers in the sport. She was expected to do well, but she drove with the leaders throughout the race and could have finish even higher than eighth. 

Patrick's success is a great sign going forward. She proved she is a force to be reckoned and is only going to get better with more races. Patrick will look to continue her momentum throughout the rest of the NASCAR season. 

Jimmie Johnson

The reigning king of NASCAR is always expected to have success, but his recent performances at Daytona made this victory somewhat surprising. Since winning the race in 2006, his best performances came in 2008 and 2011 when he finished 27th. 

For Johnson, it's a great start to the season. His incredible run of dominate racing seems likely to continue in 2013 and beyond. He's got a hold on the sport and the surprising victory at Daytona is just further proof. 

Mark Martin

Martin came close, but couldn't get his first win since 2009. The 54-year-old finished third in the race, but wasn't able to take down Jimmie Johnson. Martin's top-three finish came as a nice surprising for the aging vet. He will surely be disappointed to get so close to finally winning the Daytona 500, but his performance surely exceed expectations. 

Always the class act, Martin had this so say about the race and his career (h/t "I've told you guys over and over again. I'm not bitter about the things I haven't accomplished. I'm pretty damn proud of the things I have. That's how I feel about it."

It would have been great to see Martin get the victory, but it's still nice to see him competing down the stretch. Hopefully he gets another shot to win the race next season. 

Full Daytona 500 Results (

1. Jimmie Johnson, No. 48 - Chevrolet

2. Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 - Chevrolet

3. Mark Martin, No. 55 - Toyota

4. Brad Keselowski, No. 2 - Ford

5. Ryan Newman, No. 39 - Chevrolet

6. Greg Biffle, No. 16 - Ford

7. Regan Smith, No. 51 - Chevrolet

8. Danica Patrick, No. 10 - Chevrolet

9. Michael McDowell, No. 98 - Ford

10. J.J. Yeley, No. 36 - Chevrolet

11. Clint Bowyer, No. 15 - Toyota

12. Ricky Stenhouse Jr., No. 17 - Ford

13. Aric Almirola, No. 43 – Ford

14. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 - Toyota

15. Bobby Labonte, No. 47 - Toyota

16. David Reutimann, No. 83 - Toyota

17. Dave Blaney, No. 7 - Chevrolet

18. Marcos Ambrose, No. 9 - Ford

19. Joey Logano, No. 22 - Ford

20. Jeff Gordon, No. 24 - Chevrolet

21. Paul Menard, No. 27 - Chevrolet

22. Michael Waltrip, No. 26 - Toyota

23. Scott Speed, No. 95 - Ford

24. Martin Truex Jr., No. 56 - Toyota

25. Travis Kvapil, No. 93 - Toyota

26. Terry Labonte, No. 32 - Ford

27. Trevor Bayne, No. 21 - Ford

28. Kurt Busch, No. 78 - Chevrolet

29. Casey Mears, No. 13 - Ford

30. Jeff Burton, No. 31 - Chevrolet

31. Austin Dillon, No. 33 - Chevrolet

32. Jamie McMurray, No. 1 - Chevrolet

33. Carl Edwards, No. 99 - Ford

34. Kyle Busch, No. 18 - Toyota

35. David Ragan, No. 34 - Ford

36. Kasey Kahne, No. 5 - Chevrolet

37. Matt Kenseth, No. 20 - Toyota

38. David Gilliland, No. 38 - Ford

39. Juan Pablo Montoya, No. 42 - Chevrolet

40. Josh Wise, No. 35 - Ford

41. Tony Stewart, No. 14 - Chevrolet

42. Kevin Harvick, No. 29 - Chevrolet

43. Joe Nemechek, No. 87 - Toyota


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