Danica Patrick, first woman to lead a lap at Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.Danica Patrick made more history at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday.

She became the first woman to lead a lap and was the highest female finisher in the famed Daytona 500. She led five laps and finished eighth. Janet Guthrie had the previous best finish for a woman in the Daytona 500 — 11th in 1980.

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Danica Patrick on making NASCAR history

"You spend a lot of time thinking about what to do when the time comes," Patrick said. "I kept asking up above what was working. You needed a hole, you needed people to help you out. I had a little bit of help today here and there, but I felt like if I was going to dive low, I had a feeling I was going to get freight-trained. … At the end of the day, it was a solid day."

Patrick, the former IndyCar star and current Sprint Cup rookie, was in position to make a run at winner Jimmie Johnson in the final laps. But Patrick faded, dropping from third to eighth as more experienced drivers passed her.

"We stayed basically in the top 10 all day long," she said. "You can’t really complain about that. It was nice."

Patrick stayed out of trouble in a 200-lap race that saw several top contenders knocked out early.

Patrick started the "Great American Race" on the pole after becoming the first woman to qualify in the top spot. She failed to lead the first lap, though, falling behind three-time race winner Jeff Gordon.

  • Danica Patrick crashes in Daytona qualifier
  • Daytona 500: Danica Patrick in spotlight
  • Nonetheless, it was a big moment for NASCAR and Patrick.

    But Patrick got her chance to be out front near the midway point. Fans were on their feet as Patrick beat Michael Waltrip to the front of the field on a restart. She led laps 90 and 91 and three more later before making a pit stop.

    Patrick also made history as an IndyCar driver. She led 19 laps as a rookie in the 2005 Indianapolis 500, becoming the first woman to lead open-wheel racing’s premier event. She finished fourth.

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Jimmie Johnson wins wreck-affected Daytona 500

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Jimmie Johnson has won his second Daytona 500, racing past defending NASCAR champion Brad Keselowski on the final restart, while Danica Patrick finished eighth.

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Daytona racecar loses control

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Fans injured in crash at Daytona

Johnson wasn’t challenged over the final six laps Sunday, adding another 500 title to go with his 2006 victory.

This time crew chief Chad Knaus can enjoy it — he was suspended by NASCAR for the first victory.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a late move to finish second, but didn’t challenge his Hendrick Motorsports teammate for the victory. Mark Martin was third.

Patrick was third on the final lap, but faded in the flurry of late action. She became the first woman in history to lead laps in the Daytona 500, though, with her three laps out front.

A wreck knocked out Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards early in the race.


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NASCAR to put fans right back in crash seats

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. Fans feeling unsafe after the horrific crash at Daytona International Speedway can change seats for NASCAR’s biggest race.

Track President Joie Chitwood said Sunday workers successfully repaired a section of fence — 54 feet wide and 22 feet high — that was shredded Saturday when Kyle Larson’s car went airborne on the final lap of a second-tier race and crashed through the barrier that separates cars from fans. Large pieces of debris, including a tire, sprayed into the upper and lower section of the stands.

The crash injured more than 30 people, raising more questions about fan safety at race tracks.

Halifax Health spokesman Byron Cogdell said seven people with crash-related injuries remained hospitalized Sunday in Daytona Beach in stable condition. The six people brought to a different Halifax hospital in Port Orange with crash-related injuries had all been discharged by Sunday morning, Cogdell said.

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Daytona racecar loses control

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Fans injured in crash at Daytona

A spokeswoman at Florida Memorial Medical Center would not release information Sunday on the patients brought to that hospital.

Chitwood, meanwhile, said if any fans are uncomfortable with their up-close seating for Sunday’s Daytona 500, officials will work to move them.

"If fans are unhappy with their seating location or if they have any incidents, we would relocate them," Chitwood said Sunday. "So we’ll treat that area like we do every other area of the grandstand. If a fan is not comfortable where they’re sitting, we make every accommodation we can."

Larry Spencer of Nanticoke, Pa., said Sunday he’s not sure he wants to ever sit that low again after his 15-year-old brother, Derrick, needed three stitches in his cheek after being hit by metal debris flying from the crash. They sat close to the fence Saturday, but returned for the Daytona 500 with tickets dozens of rows farther away from the track.

"I thought it was just neat to see the cars going by that close," Spencer said. "After yesterday, though, I definitely will reconsider sitting lower ever again."

The tire that flew into the stands landed a couple of rows above where they had been standing. After the crash, looking around at the people seriously injured, Spencer said he decided to take his brother to a hospital himself so that speedway crews and paramedics could focus on the people who needed more help.

"The only way to describe it was like a bomb went off, and the car pretty much exploded," Spencer said.

Track workers finished repairs about 2 a.m. Sunday, having installed a new fence post, new metal meshing and part of the concrete wall.

Officials decided not to rebuild the collapsed cross-over gate, which allows fans to travel between the stands and the infield before races.

Even with the crash and potential questions about fan safety, the enthusiasm for NASCAR’s "Super Bowl" might dampen any concerns. CBS affiliate WKMG-TV in Orlando reports some fans camped out for two weeks in order to get good spots for the race.

"Nobody’s going to think about that, it’s racing," said Brian Wisneski from Pennsylvania. "Accidents, happen. They happen on the highway everyday."

Daytona has a grandstand remodel planned. Chitwood said the injuries could prompt a redesign that might include sturdier fences or stands further away from the on-track action.

"It’s tough to connect the two right now in terms of a potential redevelopment and what occurred," Chitwood said. "We were prepared yesterday, had emergency medical respond. As we learn from this, you bet: If there are things that we can incorporate into the future, whether it’s the current property now or any other redevelopment, we will.

"The key is sitting down with NASCAR, finding out the things that happened and how we deal with them."

Daytona reexamined its fencing and ended up replacing the entire thing following Carl Edwards’ scary crash at Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama in 2009. Edwards’ car sailed into the fence and spewed debris into the stands.

"We’ve made improvements since then," Chitwood said. "I think that’s the key: that we learn from this and figure out what else we need to do."


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Yankees win right to be the only “Evil Empire”

NEW YORK There’s only one "Evil Empire" in baseball. And the New York Yankees have won a legal victory to make sure it stays that way.

A panel of judges in Washington D.C. issued a ruling this month against a company called Evil Enterprises that has been trying since 2008 to trademark the phrase "Baseballs Evil Empire."

The Yankees opposed the application, and in their decision, the judges agreed that the team alone owned the term, at least in connection with baseball.

Evil Enterprises lawyer Gerard Dunne tells The Wall Street Journal that he hasn’t decided yet whether to appeal.

The term actually originates with Boston Red Sox President Larry Lucchino, who called the Yankees the "evil empire" after they signed Cuban pitcher Jose Contreras in 2002.


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NASCAR has some cleaning and explaining to do

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla .With the start of the Daytona 500 just hours away, NASCAR officials still have some cleaning up to do amid growing questions about fan safety.

The season opener will go off as planned Sunday less than 24 hours after at least 33 people were injured when a car flew into the fence during a NASCAR race at Daytona International Speedway, sending a tire and large pieces of debris sailing into the stands.

"Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it was truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.

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Daytona racecar loses control

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Fans injured in crash at Daytona

The final-lap accident Saturday marred the second-tier Nationwide Series race on the eve of a spectacle often called the Super Bowl of motorsports. Late into the night, track workers were scrambling to repair a huge section of fence that separates fans from the high-speed track.

Nathan Kimpel, 24, who works at a concession stand near where the crash happened, told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz that he saw 10 to 15 fans being carried out on stretchers.

"As soon as I saw the accident I just turned my head because I didn’t want to get injured or anything," Kimpel told Diaz. "I saw the fence separate and more pieces of car parts flying up."

Meghan Willams, 20, who also works at a concession stand, told Diaz the crash sounded like an "earthquake." She saw people running and crying and a girl completely covered in engine oil.

Byron Cogdell, a spokesman for Halifax Health Medical Center, told CBS News that one of the 11 patents taken to the hospital was in critical condition and five more were listed as "trauma" patients.

Speedway President Joie Chitwood III has a news conference scheduled for Sunday morning to give the latest update on repairs and any safety changes that could be made before the "Great American Race."

The 12-car crash began about 200 feet from the start-finish line as the front-runners approached the checkered flag. Leader Regan Smith attempted to block Brad Keselowski for the win, triggering a horrific pileup that could have been much worse.

The front end of Larson’s No. 32 car was sheared off, and his burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence. Parts and pieces of his car sprayed into the stands, including a tire that cleared the top of the fence and landed midway up the spectator section closest to the track.

The 20-year-old Larson stood in shock a few feet from his car as fans in the stands waved frantically for help. Smoke from the burning engine briefly clouded the area, and emergency vehicles descended on the scene.

Ambulance sirens could be heard wailing behind the grandstands at a time the race winner would typically be doing celebratory burnouts.

"It was freaky. When I looked to my right, the accident happened," Rick Harpster of Orange Park said. "I looked over and I saw a tire fly straight over the fence into the stands, but after that I didn’t see anything else. That was the worst thing I have seen, seeing that tire fly into the stands. I knew it was going to be severe."

Shannan Devine of Egg Harbor Township, N.J., was sitting about 250 feet from where the car smashed into the fence and could see plumes of smoke directly in front of her.

"I didn’t know if there was a car on top of people. I didn’t know what to think," she said. "I’m an emotional person and I immediately started to cry. It was very scary. Absolutely scary. I love the speed of the sport. But it’s so dangerous."

Chitwood said 14 fans were treated on site and 14 others were taken to hospitals. Local officials said 19 people were taken to neighboring hospitals, including two who were in critical but stable condition.

Because of potential injuries, race winner Tony Stewart skipped the traditional victory celebration.

Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate.

"The important thing is what is going on on the frontstretch right now," said Stewart, a three-time NASCAR champion. "We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it’s hard. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.

"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t look good from where I was at."


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Te’o doing tough balancing act at NFL combine

INDIANAPOLIS Manti Te’o walked into a crowded room of reporters Saturday, took a breath and settled in for 15 minutes of NFL scouting combine history.

Again, the former Notre Dame linebacker explained how he had been duped in the Internet romance he had with a girlfriend he never met, and again, he tried to turn the page on an embarrassing chapter by talking football. This time, he even got to see it play out on live television 12 yards away — where three muted flat-screen monitors were in direct view of Te’o.

He answered every question with thoughtful deliberation and tried to provide clarity on a hoax that turned one of the nation’s most inspirational football players into the butt of national jokes.

"I cared for somebody. That’s what I was taught to do ever since I was young. Somebody needs help, you help them out," Te’o said.

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Manti Te’o

Later he added: "People doubted me because I took a while to come out. From our point of view, we wanted to let everything come out first, and then let my side come out. The way we did it, I thought, worked best for me."

Te’o’s news conference was the most anticipated event of the NFL’s second-biggest offseason weekend, which brought the makeshift media room inside Lucas Oil Stadium to a virtual standstill — twice.

The too-good-to-be-true story began with Te’o’s incredible performances after learning his grandmother and what he believed was his girlfriend had died within hours of one another in September. Te’o said it inspired him to play his best football all season, and it was so compelling that it turned Te’o into a Heisman Trophy front-runner as he was leading the Fighting Irish to an undefeated season and into the national championship game.

On Dec. 26, Te’o notified Notre Dame officials that he had received a call from his supposedly dead girlfriend’s phone three weeks earlier.

The school investigated and on Jan. 16, athletic director Jack Swarbrick announced at a news conference that Te’o had been duped. Ronaiah Tuiasosopo, 22, later said he created the online persona of Lennay Kekua, a nonexistent woman who Te’o said he fell in love with despite never meeting her in person.

Since then, Te’o had only done a few one-on-one interviews.

On Saturday all that changed as many of the 800 credentialed media members surrounded the podium in rows that went eight deep. Te’o wore a tie-died red-and-black workout shirt.

"It’s pretty crazy," said Te’o, who has played most of his games on national television and was one of the most recognizable college players last season. "I’ve been in front of a few cameras before, but never as many as this."

Only two scenes from the combine over the past 15 years could even compare to what Te’o had to contend with Saturday.

The first came in 2004 when former Ohio State running back Maurice Clarett was allowed to participate in the combine after a court ruled he should be allowed to enter the draft after finishing high school only two years earlier. That decision was later reversed.

The other time was 2010, when Heisman Trophy winner and two-time national champion Tim Tebow stepped to the podium in Indianapolis and everyone, including those listening to Packers coach Mike McCarthy, sprinted to the opposite end of the room for Tebow.

This was different.

When word leaked Te’o would speak at about noon, reporters immediately surrounded the podium. Over the next 25 minutes, rumors circulated that in a rare and possibly unprecedented move, Te’o’s agent would speak from the podium. That did not happen. There also was speculation that Te’o might deliver an opening statement like the then-injured Michael Crabtree did in 2009 and Cam Newton did two years later. That did not happen, either, though Te’o did make a closing statement in which he thanked his family, friends and fans for standing by him during this tumultuous month.

"It’s definitely embarrassing. You walk into grocery stores and people give you double takes to see if they’re staring at you," he said before explaining he’s moved on. "If I was embarrassed, I wouldn’t be able to stand in front of you."

The only thing that really matters in Indy, though, is what team officials think. Te’o said in the two formal interviews he’s had, with Green Bay and Houston, they have asked about the hoax. He has another 18 interviews left.

Will it hurt his draft position?

Former NFL executive Bill Polian, architect of four Super Bowl teams in Buffalo and two in Indianapolis, has been adamant that it won’t, and coaches and general managers seem to agree.

Most say they are more concerned with the red flags of other players — drug use, alcohol abuse, academic woes and even criminal allegations — than they are with Te’o’s tale.

"Somebody that’s not truthful, that’s big, to me. I’m a big fan of the `Judge Judy’ show. And when you lie in Judge Judy’s courtroom, it’s over. Your credibility is completely lost. You have no chance of winning that case," San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said Friday. "I learned that from her. It’s very powerful, and true. Because if somebody does lie to you, how can you ever trust anything they ever say after that?"

Two questions later, he was asked whether that meant the reigning NFC champs would avoid Te’o in April’s draft.

"No. I wouldn’t say that," Harbaugh said, drawing a clear line with the rest of the crowd in Indy.

Te’o and the general public weren’t the only ones watching the interview session Saturday.

Team officials are taking notes, too.

"Honestly, it’s a distraction. If he can handle that distraction and still be able to perform on the football field, I really don’t think it makes that much of a difference," Carolina coach Ron Rivera said before Te’o spoke. "We’ll talk about it, we’ll find out about it. The bottom line is, is he a good person and can he play football?"

On the field, Te’o’s skills are unquestioned.

Last season, he was widely considered the nation’s best defensive player and walked away with the hardware to prove it. He won the Maxwell Award, Bednarik Award, Butkus Award, Bronko Nagurski Trophy, Lombardi Award and Walter Camp national player of the year and finished second in balloting for the Trophy.

But there are concerns. Te’o was asked if the undercurrent of the hoax explained his poor play in Notre Dame’s BCS championship game loss to Alabama. He has said it didn’t.

"They want to be able to trust their players. You don’t want to invest in somebody you can’t trust," Te’o said. "With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you as a person and as a football player, and I understand where they’re coming from."

But the hardest part has been seeing the impact it’s had on those around him.

In a phone call, Te’o said his sister explained how the family had to sneak into its own house because of the people parked in the front yard, and he also said he empathized with the chaos it has caused Tuiasosopo’s family. He said he has no plans to sue, either.

Instead, Te’o just wants to forget about the hoax and focus on football.

"I’ve learned first, just to be honest in everything you do, from the big things to the small things. To keep your circle very small and to really understand who’s in your corner and who’s not," he said. "Going off of the season my team and I had, there were a lot of people in our corner, and then when Jan. 16th happened, there was a lot of people in the other corner. I’ve just learned to appreciate the people that I have that are with me."


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Daytona crash sends car parts flying, injuring fans

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. As emergency workers tended to injured fans and ambulance sirens wailed in the background, a somber Tony Stewart skipped the traditional post-race victory celebration following the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

A last-lap accident sent rookie Kyle Larson’s car sailing into the fence that separates the track from the seats, and large chunks of Larson’s car landed in the grandstands. The car itself had its entire front end sheared off, with a piece of burning engine wedged through a gaping hole in the fence.

Nathan Kimpel, 24, who works at a concession stand near where the crash happened, told CBS News correspondent Adriana Diaz that he saw 10 to 15 fans being carried out on stretchers.

"As soon as I saw the accident I just turned my head because I didn’t want to get injured or anything," Kimpel told Diaz. "I saw the fence separate and more pieces of car parts flying up."

Meghan Willams, 20, who also works at a concession stand, told Diaz the crash sounded like an "earthquake." She saw people running and crying and a girl completely covered in engine oil.

Neither NASCAR nor Daytona International Speedway officials had any immediate comment on potential injuries.

"There obviously was some intrusion into the fence and fortunately with the way the event’s equipped up, there were plenty of emergency workers ready to go and they all jumped in on it pretty quickly," said NASCAR President Mike Helton. "Right now, it’s just a function of determining what all damage is done. They’re moving folks, as we’ve seen, to care centers and take some folks over to Halifax Medical."

Stewart, who won for the 19th time at Daytona and seventh time in the last nine season-opening Nationwide races, was in no mood to celebrate.

"The important thing is what going on on the frontstretch right now," said Stewart, the three-time NASCAR champion. "We’ve always known, and since racing started, this is a dangerous sport. But it’s hard. We assume that risk, but it’s hard when the fans get caught up in it.

"So as much as we want to celebrate right now and as much as this is a big deal to us, I’m more worried about the drivers and the fans that are in the stands right now because that was … I could see it all in my mirror, and it didn’t look good from where I was at."

The accident spread into the upper deck and emergency crews treated fans on both levels. There were five stretchers that appeared to be carrying fans out, and a helicopter flew overhead. A forklift was used to pluck Larson’s engine out of the fence, and there appeared to be a tire in the stands.

Daytona President Joie Chitwood waited by steps as emergency workers attended to those in the stands. Across the track, fans pressed against a fence and used binoculars trying to watch. Wrecked cars and busted parts were strewn across the garage.

"It’s a violent wreck. Just seeing the carnage on the racetrack, it’s truly unbelievable," driver Justin Allgaier said.

It was a chaotic finish to a race that was stopped for nearly 20 minutes five laps from the finish by a 13-car accident that sent driver Michael Annett to a local hospital for further evaluation. NASCAR said Annett was awake and alert.

The race resumed with three laps to go, and the final accident occurred with Regan Smith leading as he headed out of the final turn to the checkered flag. He admittedly tried to block Brad Keselowski to preserve the win.

"I tried to throw a block, it’s Daytona, you want to go for the win here," Smith said. "I don’t know how you can play it any different other than concede second place, and I wasn’t willing to do that today. Our job is to put them in position to win, and it was, and it didn’t work out."

As the cars began wrecking all around Smith and Keselowski, Stewart slid through for the win, but Larson plowed into Keselowski and his car was sent airborne into the stands. When Larson’s car came to a stop, it was missing its entire front end. The 20-year-old, who made his Daytona debut this week, stood apparently stunned, hands on his hips, several feet away from his car, before finally making the mandatory trip to the care center.

He later said his first thought was with the fans.

"I hope all the fans are OK and all the drivers are all right," Larson said. "I took a couple big hits there and saw my engine was gone. Just hope everybody’s all right."

He said he was along for the ride in the last-lap accident.

"I was getting pushed from behind, I felt like, and by the time my spotter said lift or go low, it was too late," Larson said. "I was in the wreck and then felt like it was slowing down and I looked like I could see the ground. Had some flames come in the cockpit, but luckily I was all right and could get out of the car quick."

It appeared fans were lined right along the fence when Larson’s car sailed up and into it.

Keselowski watched a replay of the final accident, but said his first thoughts were with the fans. As for the accident, he agreed he tried to make a winning move and Smith tried to block.

"He felt like that’s what he had to do, and that’s his right. The chaos comes with it," Keselowski said. "I made the move and he blocked it, and the two of us got together and started the chain events that caused that wreck. First and foremost, just want to make sure everyone in the stands is OK and we’re thinking about them."

Keselowski said the incident could cast a pall on Sunday’s season-opening Daytona 500.

"I think until we know exactly the statuses of everyone involved, it’s hard to lock yourself into the 500," Keselowski said. "Hopefully we’ll know soon and hopefully everyone’s OK. And if that’s the case, we’ll staring focusing on Sunday."


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