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So what happened to all those Chevrolets? After all their speed and the pre-race build-up, they flopped in the 500


Chevy's Kevin Harvick: second at Daytona, second in the Sprint Cup standings heading to California (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern

   After all the hype about Chevy power in the days leading up to the Daytona, the 500 itself didn't go quite as planned.
   Jimmie Johnson was never in the game, and he was so far out of it he left the track that night without talking to anyone.
   Jeff Gordon, the only man who could do much with Toyota's Kyle Busch, had tire trouble that hampered him, and an early pit stop late, with a damaged tire, that took him right out of the hunt. Gordon too split without saying anything.
   Mark Martin simply didn't show as much power as expected, but then he said he, like many drivers, found himself having to baby his right-front tire. He wound up 16th after making a late stop for tires that took him out of the top-10.
   "The team made a call to pit, and it would have been a perfect call, had we just gotten a few more laps in before the rain started falling so hard," Martin said. "I have never had this much fun before, and I am positive the rest of the year is going to continue this way.
    "It's on to more fun at California now."
   So it was Kevin Harvick who wound up the best-finishing Chevy guy, second, pushing winner Matt Kenseth around Elliott Sadler that last lap of green as rain began falling more intensely.
   "Seems to be typical of how we race," Harvick said of his slow start to the race.
   "To be honest with you, we were off a little bit.  Then we started in the back. 
   "We made some huge adjustments the second or third pit stop and got ourselves in the back again.  But we were able to make the car where it drove really good.
   "Once I got myself in the middle of the pack the car was easy to drive.  We just didn't have the speed like we needed.
   "I wasn't happy with the way we started the day, but I was proud of the way we came back."
   The sudden ending to the race – NASCAR's surprise decision to pull the plug at 6:48 p.m., after just 20 minutes of light rain – will lead to a number of what-ifs.
    "I'm like Elliott – another lap and you never know what would have happened," Harvick said.
   "It would have been nice to win another Daytona 500…so it's also kind of bittersweet.
   "But then it was Matt who pushed me to my Daytona 500 win (in 2007). 
   "It's weird how that stuff works out.
    "In the garage it will definitely be a popular win -- Matt's a pretty stand-up person, and a great driver, and he's accomplished a lot in this sport.
   "So a lot of us can relate to Matt for dropping out of the spotlight for a while."
   Kenseth was winless in 2008.
   "And Matt is one of those guys who can win seven or eight races in a year and never receive any credit," Harvick went on.
   Tony Stewart, now back in a Chevy this season as an owner-driver, had to start in the rear too, after going to a backup car in the wake of the Saturday crash when teammate Ryan Newman blew a right-rear.
   Stewart managed to finish eighth, with all the scrambling and odd strategies at the end.
  But he still wasn't in a very good mood: "We've been hung out to dry about 8,000 times in 150 laps, so screw 'em, we'll do it on our own."
   Was Stewart disappointed he didn't get another 100 miles to sort things out?
    "You can't predict the weather," Stewart said. "It is part of racing. It is not the first time we got rained on.
   "We all knew the weather was coming, so it was a matter of scrambling, trying to get there. Matt Kenseth did the best job."
   And Stewart said, all in all, it was a pretty good SpeedWeeks: "To leave here with a third, second and eighth…can't say that is really that disappointing.
   "Considering we lost three cars, to still have a car finish in the top-10 you can't be that disappointed. 
   "We have got a lot of potential, obviously.
   "We just have to get poor Ryan hooked up right now. That is the part I am disappointed with."

What Happened? Toyota, Ford, And Dodge

Chevrolet simply is not as good as it used to be anymore.

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