Less than 70 laps remain in the 53rd Annual Daytona 500, and the story of the day has been big names struck by trouble and unlikely faces at the front.
Trouble befell Kevin Harvick early, when the engine in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet detonated. Less than ten laps later, several of the top contenders, including Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, were involved in a 17-car melee in turns three and four.
Jeff Burton, winner of the second Gatorade Duel on Thursday, suffered the same fate as his teammate, Harvick, when his engine blew just before the mid-point of the race.
As stars have struggled, unheralded Regan Smith, rookie Trevor Bayne and independent veteran Robby Gordon have been among the day’s top contenders throughout the day.
A thrilling battle to the finish, and potentially a surprise winner, is shaping up as the race nears it’s final quarter distance.