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Daytona 500 Opens With 14 Car Crash

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Michael Waltrip, driver of the #15 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, looks at his car after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Michael Waltrip, driver of the #15 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota, looks at his car after an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 20, 2011 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo by John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)

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DAYTONA BEACH (CBS4) – A rough start to the Daytona 500 after 14 cars were involved in a wreck early in the 500 mile Great American Race.

The accident took a heavy toll on Hendrick Motorsports; three of its four cars were involved including five-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson.

Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin also sustained damage; Gordon’s car was crumpled front and back. Gordon says his “chances of winning the Daytona 500 are over.” He expects to return to the race to turn as many laps as possible.

Fan favorite Dale Earnhardt Jr. avoided the mess.

Two-time Daytona 500 winner Michael Waltrip started the accident by running into the back of teammate David Reutimann. Waltrip owns the team. Reutimann spun sideways and collected several cars in his wake, including several favorites.

Kevin Harvick is out of the Daytona 500, leaving the Great American Race after just 22 laps because of engine failure. Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 champion, had been one of the favorites in Sunday’s season opener after showing plenty of speed during Speedweeks.

Harvick was lined up behind Matt Kenseth when his engine blew, sending smoke bellowing from underneath his No. 29 Chevrolet. Harvick, who finished third in last year’s Sprint Cup standings, says it’s a tough way to start the new season. He will finish 42nd in the opener.

(©2011 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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