Tough Daytona 500 for Gibbs Duo

Matt Kenseth

Kenseth's No. 20 Toyota suffered an engine failure on lap 150. (Photo: Getty Images)

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Joe Gibbs Racing had two drivers eliminated from contention in the Daytona 500 because of engine trouble, including Matt Kenseth who led a race-high 86 laps.

Making his first points-paying start with JGR, Kenseth was out front for the fourth time in the race when he was forced him to pit road on lap 150. When Kenseth pulled into his pit stall the crew lifted the hood on the smoking No. 20 Toyota and then headed for the garage.

“I know we’re sitting in the garage so everyone is going to thing we’re bummed out and I am, but I can’t be any more thankful or excited honestly," Kenseth said. "I don’t think the week could have gone any better. Our finishing position doesn’t show it, but it’s just a great group -- really, really fast race cars if you have really fast race cars and we get some reliability stuff fixed then we’re going to win races and hopefully contend for championships.”

Kenseth was strong throughout the entire week in Daytona and many, including last week’s Sprint Unlimited winner Kevin Harvick, felt he was a favorite to win the 500.

That prediction looked promising until Kenseth’s engine woes sidelined him from the race.

“It’s disappointing obviously, but it’s also really encouraging,” said Kenseth. “I thought we did all the right things. We had a great pit stop right there at the end -- I thought Jason (Ratcliff, crew chief) had a great pit stop there at the end when we needed it.

“He just had a great strategy. Our Toyota was really fast. We had all the right things -- we just didn’t make it to the end. Those are things we can fix. Really excited with how we ran and really thankful to be part of this team….”

Teammate Kyle Busch’s Speedweeks included a Budweiser Duel win and second-place run in Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series season opener. But after experiencing an engine malfunction in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race, Busch was dealt the same fate in the Daytona 500.

“Just broke an engine for some reason,” said Busch, who fell out of the race two laps after Kenseth's issue. “Just unfortunate that this whole team has got to go through this stuff. We got bottled up back in traffic a little bit there. I hate it that I wrecked the 5 (Kasey Kahne) and the rest of those guys that were racing around us. But, unfortunate for us we broke pieces.”

Mechanical issues were a theme for Busch last season and unfortunately for him the new year has picked up right where it left off.

“I hate it for this whole team,” Busch said. “These guys -- they do a great job and work too hard and it sounds a lot like 2012 already.”

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