DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- A rare pair of engine failures for Richard Childress Racing knocked contenders Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton out of the Daytona 500.
Harvick's car lasted only 22 laps before sustaining what his team suspected was a broken engine block. Burton's car then gave up after 92 laps.
Harvick said his problems probably didn't have anything to do with concerns about overheating when acting as the pushing car in the two-car style of drafting that has dominated Daytona Speedweeks.
"I don't think so," Harvick said. "Overheating would be getting it to the point where it blows off, you see the water start to come out [of the radiator]."
But Burton said the style of racing at Daytona this year is taxing on engines.
"We're asking a lot out of the engines here for sure," Burton said. "These are tough situations."
The RCR team's engines are built by Earnhardt-Childress Racing, a joint venture between Childress' team and Dale Earnhardt Inc. Sunday's problems aside, they've been considered some of the most powerful and reliable in the field.
Burton wasn't sure if the other ECR engines left in the field would be able to last.
"We thought we were well within our limits, but maybe not," Burton said.
Harvick, the 2007 Daytona 500 champion, was one of the favorites in Sunday's season opener after showing plenty of speed during Speedweeks. He was lined up behind Matt Kenseth when his engine blew, sending smoke from underneath his No. 29 Chevrolet.
"We never blow motors," Harvick said.
Harvick said his oil temperature was reading a little bit high, and he was backing out from behind Kenseth's car to get his car cooled down when the engine blew.
"We had a touch more oil temp, but nothing out of the ordinary, and I had just pulled out," Harvick said. "That early in the race, even if you do get it hot, it's usually not catastrophic failure like we just had."
Harvick, who finished third in last year's Sprint Cup standings, said it's a tough way to start the new season.
"Obviously, you come to the biggest race of the year, and have that happen right off the bat is just something that you don't really want to happen," Harvick said. "It's just one of those things that happens. We go years and years without engine failures, and they do a great job on that. It happens."