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Blown engines end race early for favorites Harvick, Burton

| Monday, Feb. 21, 2011

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton blew engines in their Richard Childress Racing cars and didn't make it to the finish of the Daytona 500, a tough day for a team that entered as favorites.

Harvick finished 42nd after the No. 29 Chevrolet engine popped on Lap 23. Burton, finishing 36th, turned 92 laps before the No. 31 Chevrolet left a trail of smoke in Turn 3.

"We had just a 10 to 15 more degree oil temp than what we had been (running)," said Harvick, who had gone 152 consecutive races without blowing engine. "I pulled out from behind the 17 (Matt Kenseth) when I felt like I got to the point where I needed to pull out, and the bottom fell out."

"I'm exceptionally disappointed," said Burton, who won the second Gatorade Duel qualifying race Thursday to earn the fourth starting position. "We are asking a lot out of the engines here. You got to run them 240 (degrees) or so, and that may be a little more than we need to be running."

NASCAR installed pressure relief valves to cool the engines. They also mandated smaller holes in the grill to keep the cars from getting hot too fast.

Dangerous twosomes

The two-car drafts were mostly effective, particularly for the stronger teams. But one slip-up triggered a crash. Michael Waltrip teammates David Reutimann and Michael Waltrip were knocked out.

2010 Chase qualifiers struggle

It was not a good day for several Chase qualifiers in the season-opener. Defending series champion Jimmie Johnson (27th), Jeff Gordon (28th), Greg Biffle (35th), Matt Kenseth (34th), Kevin Harvick (42nd) and Jeff Burton (36th) didn't place in the 25.

All six must fight from behind in the points standing, partly because the change in the point system penalizes drivers who failed to finish a race.

Kenseth crashed twice. He was involved in a 14-car crash, then was knocked out of the race on Lap 136 by Biffle, a Roush Fenway Racing teammate who was KO'd after colliding with Juan Pablo Montoya on Lap 142.

"I got sideways, and there's little you can do," Biffle said. "You've got to push to stay up with the cars."

Ford tough

Ford had the top three finishes, including a surprising third-place showing by journeyman David Gilliland. Juan Pablo Montoya gave Chevrolet its best performance with a sixth-place finish. The manufacturer had won the past three races at DIS.

"We just had to preserve it at the end," Gilliland said. "I don't think I've finish the last three or four restrictor-place races I've run."

Quote of the Day

"He is about to have the greatest week of his life." -- Carl Edwards, the Daytona 500 runner-up, on 20-year-old winner Trevor Bayne.

Lug nuts

Joey Logano, David Ragan and David Reutimann started in back of the field because of engine changes. ... Terry Labonte led a lap in a Cup race for the first time since 2004. ... Regan Smith finished seventh to earn his first career top-10 finish. ... Carl Edwards has the points lead with 42 points -- Bayne isn't eligible because he opted to compete for the Nationwide title, but Wood Brothers earned the owners points.

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