- Associated Press - Thursday, February 23, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. (AP) - Two-time Daytona 500 champion Michael Waltrip has failed to qualify for NASCAR’s season opener, ending his streak of 25 consecutive years in The Great American Race.

Waltrip wrecked his No. 40 Toyota with seven laps remaining in the first 150-mile qualifier Thursday, an odd and costly mistake for the owner/driver. Waltrip was coming off pit road and trying to merge onto the high-banked oval when he lost control and slammed into the wall.

He was unharmed, but his frustration was evident.

He sat in a golf cart and stared at the scoring tower, knowing he needed a bunch of help to make the Daytona 500. It didn’t happen. Michael McDowell and Robby Gordon raced their way into the opener, eliminating Waltrip.

Waltrip also crashed in Saturday’s exhibition Budweiser Shootout.

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