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February 25, 2013

Early wreck in Daytona 500 takes out favorites

(Continued)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. —

Hamlin tweeted, “(at) keselowski sorry I couldn’t get close to you cuz your genius teammate was too busy messing up the inside line 1 move at a time.”

Keselowski, the reigning Sprint Cup champion, escaped the first wreck that knocked out the heavy favorites and dodged danger again in the Edwards’ crash. He led the race with 20 laps left but smacked into some debris on the speedway and slowed down just enough to finish fourth.

“We wrecked about three times today and still had a shot at the win,” Keselowski said. “We just came up short.”

Stewart, who won the crash-marred Nationwide race Saturday, never got the chance to at least be in the hunt. His second-tier win was his 19th victory at Daytona in all other races at the track except the 500. He has more wins at one of NASCAR’s most famous tracks than everyone except Dale Earnhardt (34).

Earnhardt won the Daytona 500 in his 20th try.

Stewart will at least stretch it out to 16.

The race wasn’t a total loss for Stewart. His Stewart-Haas Racing team fields the car for pole winner Danica Patrick. Patrick became the first woman to lead a lap in the Daytona 500. She led five laps and finished eighth. On the starting grid, Stewart gave her a big hug and whispered into her ear before she slid into the cockpit.

Told the accident spoiled the start of his season, Stewart wasn’t buying it.

“To hell with the season,” he said. “I wanted to win the Daytona 500.

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Follow Dan Gelston online: https://twitter.com/APGelston and http://racing.ap.org

 

 

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