Sprint Unlimited 2013: Biggest Winners and Losers from Daytona

Pete Schauer@@Pete_SchauerCorrespondent IFebruary 17, 2013

Sprint Unlimited 2013: Biggest Winners and Losers from Daytona

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    The 2013 NASCAR season kicked off at Daytona International Speedway on Saturday, as the Sprint Unlimited brought us one race closer to the Daytona 500 on Feb. 24.

    As usual, the first race of the season gives racers and crews a chance to hammer out the mechanical glitches and issues that occur during a long season of racing.

    So which competitors jumped out to an early-season lead and who fell behind early?

    Here's a look at the winners and losers from Saturday's race.

Winner: Kevin Harvick

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    For the third time in five years, Kevin Harvick won the Sprint Unlimited race at Daytona (h/t ESPN).

    Driving the Gen-6 car for the first time, Harvick won the race, leading 40 of the 75 laps after starting in 17th position.

    Having already inked a deal to drive for Stewart-Haas Racing next year, Harvick is looking to have a successful year in his final season with RCR.

    Harvick finished last season ranked eighth in the Sprint Cup standings, owning 2,321 points and placing first in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Phoenix after starting 19th.

Loser: Jeff Gordon

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    Jeff Gordon only completed 14 laps on Saturday before being involved in a nine-car crash that also included Kyle Busch, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin (h/t ESPN).

    Gordon started in the seventh spot and had good positioning to finish near the top on Saturday, but the crash, which Tony Stewart took responsibility for, ended any chance for Gordon to make an impact.

    Gordon, whose been racing since 1992, finished 10th in the Sprint Cup Standings last season, highlighted by two first-place finishes at Pocono and Homestead-Miami.

    That victory at Homestead was the last race of the 2012 season and Gordon undoubtedly had high expectations heading into this season, but he'll have to wait another five days to kick his season off right.

Winner: Joey Logano

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    Joey Logano was fortunate enough to miss the nine-car wreck on Saturday and finish in third place after starting in the ninth position.

    Logano finished his 2012 season ranked 17th in the Sprint Cup standings, posting one first-place finish at Pocono.

    Now in his sixth NASCAR season, Logano is looking to cement himself as one of the top drivers in the standings, and he certainly took a step in the right direction following a top-five finish on Saturday.

    Logano will be looking to build upon his series-best nine Nationwide races last year (via ESPN) in his first year as a member of the Penske Racing team.

Loser: Kurt Busch

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    The beginning of the 2013 season has been rough for Kurt Busch.

    After crashing his car in practice on Friday, Busch was involved in Saturday's wreck, which again saw his car ruined and his day end early.

    Busch wound up placing 13th after completing a mere 15 laps.

    According to ESPN, Busch's racing team has joined forces with Richard Childress Racing to ensure that Busch makes it to the Daytona 500. 

    This certainly isn't how Busch imagined his 2013 campaign starting, especially after finishing 25th in 2012 with 735 points in the Sprint Cup standings.

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