- Associated Press - Sunday, February 24, 2013

Defending Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski leads the Daytona 500 with 20 laps to go.

He’s followed by Jimmie Johnson, Marcus Ambrose, Greg Biffle, Denny Hamlin and Danica Patrick.

_ Paul Newberry _ http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963


KENSETH OUT: There won’t be a repeat winner at the Daytona 500.

Defending champ Matt Kenseth had led more laps than anyone when, suddenly, his car began smoking on lap 149. He headed to pit road and it didn’t take long for the crew to push him behind the wall, ruining any hopes of becoming the first back-to-back winner since Sterling Marlin in 1994-95.

Kenseth and his new teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, were actually running 1-2-3 when Kenseth had some sort of engine or transmission problem. Just two laps later, Busch’s car also went out, smoking as well, sending the driver of the No. 18 machine storming through the garage, ripping off his racesuit.

“It’s really unfortunate,” Busch said. “We were running 1-2-3 and it felt like we were dropping like flies. Something inside the motor broke that’s not supposed to break. It’s a little devastating when you’re running 1-2-3 like that. Hopefully the No. 11 (Hamlin) can bring it home.”

_ Paul Newberry _ http://www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963


EDWARDS’ TOUGH MONTH: No one will be more eager than Carl Edwards to get out of Daytona.

The No. 99 team had a brutal month leading up to the NASCAR season opener, wrecking four times.

Make it five.

Edwards was caught up in a crash heading into turn one at the Daytona 500, another case of simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Trevor Bayne bumped Brad Keselowski from behind, which sent the No. 21 car sliding sideways.

With nowhere to go, Edwards was sent into the outside wall.

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