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DAYTONA 500 NOTES

Breakdowns end Matt Kenseth's and Kyle Busch's hopes at Daytona 500

Kenseth leads 86 laps before mechanical failure ends his day. Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart are knocked out of the race by an eight-car crash on Lap 33.

February 24, 2013|By Jim Peltz
  • Matt Kenseth's No. 20 Dollar General Toyota pits with mechanical problems late in the Daytona 500 on Sunday.
Matt Kenseth's No. 20 Dollar General Toyota pits with mechanical… (Jonathan Ferrey / Getty…)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- One moment the three Joe Gibbs Racing drivers were leading NASCAR's Daytona 500. The next moment two of them were out of the race.

Defending Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth led a race-high 86 laps and, at one point, teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch were running second and third behind him.

But Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota suddenly began smoking, forcing him to the garage. A few laps later, the same thing happened to Busch's No. 18 Toyota.

"I'm not sure if it's an engine or a transmission," Kenseth said. "Disappointing end to a great day."

Busch said his car "just broke an engine for some reason. Kudos to all of the guys building these cars, but we've got to have engines that last."

Harvick, Stewart wreck early

Two of the pre-race favorites, Kevin Harvick and Tony Stewart, had their days ruined early when they were collected in an eight-car crash on Lap 33 of the 200-lap race.

Stewart is a three-time Sprint Cup Series champion, but he has never won the Daytona 500 and he finished 41st on Sunday. Harvick was 42nd.

"I don't know what started it, but we just got caught up in another wreck," Stewart said. "We had a car that we could pass with today."

A Daytona 500 winner, Harvick also looked strong coming into this year's race, having won last week's Sprint Unlimited exhibition race and one of the Daytona 500's two qualifying races.

Injured fans recognized

Several drivers and other team members made a point of sending good wishes to the more than two dozen spectators injured at Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Daytona.

"Hopefully they're doing well today and we welcome them back as soon as they get well," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said.

Halifax Health, a local hospital, said after the race that it was still treating seven patients injured from flying debris when Kyle Larson's car hit the grandstand fence, and that all the patients were in stable condition.

james.peltz@latimes.com

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