DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Nobody is as eager to get to Phoenix this weekend as Matt Kenseth and Joe Gibbs Racing, the team that can only view the Daytona 500 as a disaster.
JGR was running 1-2-3 at one point of "The Great American Race" and in prime position to put one of its drivers in Victory Lane. Instead, Wisconsin-native Matt Kenseth went to pit road with an engine issue after leading a race-high 86 laps. Kyle Busch followed him a few moments later.
Both could only watch in street clothes as Denny Hamlin tried to carry the JGR banner. He led three times for 33 laps, only to get stuck in the wrong lane in the closing laps and fade to a 14th-place finish.
It was a bitter outcome for the organization and for manufacturer Toyota, which had put a huge emphasis on the Daytona 500 and had all six of its factory cars running 1-through-6 at one point of the race.
It was Kenseth's first race with JGR after leaving Roush Fenway Racing, and he was seeking his third Daytona 500 title.