Daytona 500 Results: Jeff Gordon's Early Exit Adds to NASCAR's Woes

Josh MartinNBA Lead WriterFebruary 27, 2012

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 27:  Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, stays off the wall after an engine failure during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 27, 2012 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)
Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

NASCAR had better hope the rest of the 2012 Sprint Cup Series doesn't resemble the disaster that's played out at the Daytona 500.

Having to postpone the Great American Race for the first time in its 54-year history was bad enough, particularly after pushing back the date to account for a potentially late Super Bowl. Losing the likes of Jimmie Johnson, Trevor Bayne and Danica Patrick in a wreck on the second lap certainly didn't make the situation any better for Mike Helton and the rest of NASCAR's big wigs.

Neither did watching Jeff Gordon's engine blow out 79 laps later. Luckily, no one was hurt and Gordon was smart and savvy enough to alert the other drivers on the track of his problems.

Still, Gordon's absence from the field after less than half the race zapped the Daytona 500 of yet another intriguing storyline to follow until the finish. Gordon had been gunning to become just the third driver to accumulate four or more trips to victory lane at the Daytona 500.

Instead, Gordon and his crew will be left to wonder what could've been had the water pressure gauge not blown out in the engine of his No. 24 car while Richard Petty and Cale Yarbrough enjoy their bicycle made for two atop the pantheon of the Great American Race.

And NASCAR, for its part, will keep its fingers crossed in hopes that the rest of the season isn't quite so riddled with delays, cautions and disappointing exits by big-name stars as was its opener.