Daytona Dreams Fade Away

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - With one of the biggest fields in years trying to make Sunday's Daytona 500, Thursday's Gatorade Duel at Daytona was a make or break day for a number of drivers.

Unfortunately this year's Daytona dream ended for a group of 17 drivers.

Former 500 winners Derrike Cope and Bill Elliott missed the show. Comeback kid Ward Burton is out. And Paul Menard is on the sidelines, who was trying to put three DEI cars in the race.

The new Team Red Bull duo of A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Vickers will be forced to watch Sunday's race from home.

Allmendinger was involved in an accident in the day's first race while Vickers suffered the same fate in the second.

"Obviously it’s disappointing," said Vickers. "We came down here and we did our best, but something happened that was out of our control when we blew the right-rear tire. We’ll have to go get them at California."

With no points to fall back on and a less than stellar qualifying speed, racing his way into the 500 was Vickers' only hope.

"It’s definitely frustrating, but there is really no other way to go about it," he said. "I don’t really think there’s any rule changes to make it better. Seventy cars just can’t start the race."

Another Toyota team, Bill Davis Racing, also suffered through a disappointing day.

While Dave Blaney has the team's No. 22 Camry in the 500 based on last year's owners' points, Jeremy Mayfield and Mike Skinner came up short in their bid to give Davis three entries in Sunday's race.

"Maybe some wires came off or we broke something in the motor or the plugs, or something," said Skinner, who will try and make a few Cup races this year for BDR. "I just have to say, we have the best engine people on the planet working on this Camry. TRD has done a phenomenal job, I think our little truck over here is pretty good and the Camry is going to be an awesome race car. I think we were going to be okay. I was just buying my time, trying to stay out of trouble and trying to keep all the fenders all on until it got 10 to go, but we didn’t get that opportunity today."

The day was heartbreaking for driver Mike Bliss in the No. 49, BAM Racing Dodge, who lost a dash to the line on the last lap of race number one with Boris Said. Said, 12th in the race, edged Bliss at the line by inches.

"I feel like I want to cry," a dejected Bliss said afterward.

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