Crash ends day for Harvick, Stewart

Two of the hottest teams at Speedweeks already have drivers sidelined in the season-opening NASCAR Sprint Cup Daytona 500.

Stewart-Haas Racing has been on a tear at Speedweeks, but Tony Stewart’s effort to finally capture the Daytona 500 ended with a crash early in Sunday’s race. Meanwhile, Richard Childress Racing’s Kevin Harvick lost in his bid to become the first driver to sweep Speedweeks.

Asked about starting his season on such a note, Stewart showed just how much a win in this race would have meant to him.

“The hell with the season; I wanted to win the Daytona 500,” he said shortly after climbing from his car. “We had a car that we could pass with today. We were passing cars by ourself, so happy with our car; was just waiting for it to all get sorted out again. I don’t know what started it, but we just got caught up in another wreck.”

The pair of contenders were caught up in a nine-car accident on Lap 33 that also involved Juan Pablo Montoya, Jamie McMurray, defending series champion Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, Kyle Busch, Casey Mears and Kurt Busch. The final three were able to continue racing after the incident.

“I let off a little bit to miss the wreck,” Harvick said. “It looked like the No. 18 (of Kyle Busch) hooked the No. 5 (of Kahne), and that kind of just started a chain reaction. I don’t know who was behind me, but just one of those deals.”

Harvick previously had won this month’s Sprint Unlimited and Budweiser Duel at Daytona International Speedway.

From his viewpoint, Kahne said drivers were slowing and he was just trying to stay out of trouble.

It just didn’t work out that way for him.

“The guys in front of me were all checking up,” Kahne said. “I was trying not to run over Jeff (Gordon), and I could feel a lot of momentum right there, so I was trying hard not to run over Jeff. Kyle was probably feeling the same momentum from behind and hit me, which shot me to the infield. There were a lot of cars close together.”