Tony Stewart Wins Four in a Row at Daytona

Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

Tony Stewart crossed the finish line .007 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick Inc. teammate Clint Bowyer, scoring his fourth consecutive victory in the Daytona February race in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Stewart had suffered a flat right rear tire with just nine to go while under caution, but was able to use the draft to his advantage and work his way back up to the front to take the win.

“We got to the front pretty early,” said Stewart. “Once we got with Clint, we knew if we could stay together all day, we were going to be a pretty potent combination. We felt like obviously it shaped up to be between the KHI cars and the Gibbs cars. Didn't seem to matter what order Clint and I were in, we could run and run longer before we would have to switch with each other than the Gibbs cars were able to do.”

Bowyer, who was drafting with Stewart for most of the afternoon, led eight times for 40 laps, the most of any other driver. This was Bowyer’s second 2ndplace effort of SpeedWeeks, after losing to Richard Childress Racing teammate Jeff Burton in the second Gatorade Duel race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

“If I could give these two up to win that one, make the third one a charm, it would be a helluva charm,” Bowyer said after the race.

Landon Cassill finished third, making him the highest finishing Nationwide Series regular, giving him the points lead under the new points system. Without a ride for next week, Cassill hopes that his strong performance in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race will make him more appealing to sponsors and owners.

“It's hard to just puff your chest out and walk up to them and say, ‘Hey, put me in your car,’ cause you want to be able to prove it on the track and say, ‘See what I did, put me in your car,’” Cassill said.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth, with Reed Sorenson rounding out the top five. Sorenson is currently second in the points standings and will have the points lead if Cassill is unable to compete next week in Phoenix.

Meanwhile, IndyCar superstar Danica Patrick finished 14th and one lap down, an improvement from last year when she finished 35th after crashing just 69 laps into the race. Patrick was also able to lead a lap after Bowyer pushed her to the front, becoming the first female driver to lead a lap at Daytona.

Bowyer complimented Patrick after the race, saying, “She did a good job today.”

The race saw 35 total lead changes among eight drivers, tying the record number of lead changes in the February Nationwide Series event at Daytona. The previous two races with that many lead changes were back in 1986 and 1984.

The race was slowed five times for 23 laps. Four cautions were multi-car accidents, with the last caution of the day bringing out a red flag for just over five minutes after a five car crash. All drivers involved in wrecks were able to walk away.

Joey Logano crashed on the last lap of the race after contact with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch sent him into the backstretch wall. However, NASCAR decided to let the race stay green until the checkered flag flew. The two drivers exchanged words after the race.

“Kyle and I were just pushing each other trying to win the race and I can’t even tell you what happened because it happened so quick,” said Logano. “We were just pushing each other hard and just talking to Kyle. He was trying to block the center group coming up and I think he moved a little bit too quick and it just sent me going. I almost had a save and then it came back and slapped the wall so that was the end of that.”

The series heads to Phoenix International Raceway for the Bashas’ Supermarket 200. Coverage begins Saturday, February 26th, on ESPN2 at 5:30PM ET and MRN Radio at 5PM ET.
Tony Stewart Wins Four in a Row at Daytona Tony Stewart Wins Four in a Row at Daytona Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Saturday, February 19, 2011 Rating: 5