Danica Patrick has walked away from a final lap accident in the first Gatorade Duel at Daytona International Speedway.
Patrick is making her first start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at the start of a limited schedule in the championship following her switch from Indycar over the off season. She was running at the tail of the lead pack exiting turn two on the last of the 60 laps when Jamie McMurray and Aric Almirola touched, Almirola's car tipping Patrick's GoDaddy.com Chevrolet into a slide across the paved infield before hitting the inside wall hard, destroying the car.
Patrick had already qualified for the Daytona 500, but will have to race a back-up car.
The crash ended the final race, which was won by series champion Tony Stewart. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was seconds with Marcos Ambrose third.
The Gatorade Duels decide the starting line-up for Sunday's Daytona 500 and the leading trio will start third, fifth and seventh behind front row men Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.
Robby Gordon and Michael McDowall both secured their place in the race, finishing as the top two of those drivers yet to be locked into the race. Veteran Michael Waltrip – another who had to race his way into the field crashed earlier in the race as he accelerated to racing speed following a pitstop under green flag conditions.
Paul Menard, Juan Pablo Montoya and David Gilliland crashed early on. All three will still race on Sunday, though they will start from the back of the 43 car grid.
A second 60 lap race later today decides the rest of the field.