Tony Stewart Comes From the Back to the Front to Win Coke Zero 400
The weekend started out great for defending Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart. He qualified in the second position, but quickly found out that is time would be disallowed due to some post qualifying infractions. This wouldn’t stop Stewart from racing his way from his 42nd place starting position all the way to victory lane.
The night started out not as Stewart hoped, as he planned to hang out in the back of the field for the first half of the race since he was staring back there. However, Stewart and his team found some problems after the first round of green flag pit stops. Stewart, along with Brad Keselowski and David Ragan lost the draft.
The race had no cautions in the entire first half of the race and hanging back had cost these three drivers as they were over half a lap down. The lucky break came for Stewart when Sam Hornish Jr. blew a right rear tire. This allowed Stewart to catch up to the pack and start racing. Stewart made sure he didn’t lose the draft this time and quickly made his way into the top 10. With the Roush teammates of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle dominating the entire race, Stewart was working with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the outside to get to the front.
Another lucky break for Stewart came with just 30 laps to go. While drivers including Kenseth and Biffle slowed down to make a green flag pit stop, carnage was happening right behind them. This meant that the Roush teammates would have to start in the back of the pack for the first time. This opened the door for Stewart.
While Kenseth and Biffle tried making there way to the front, Stewart managed to hold on to the lead. However, with just a few laps remaining, Kenseth and Biffle were hooked up again and making a move for the lead on the outside of Stewart. More carnage happened right as Kenseth took the lead. This led to a green-white-checkered finish.
Stewart was on the outside with help from Kasey Kahne, while the Roush duo was lined up on the inside. On the final lap, both tandems got separated, but Stewart was able to clear everyone for the lead. As the pack quickly caught the slower front four, the pack got bottled up and a big crash occurred. Stewart was then able to make it to the finish line with no pressure from second place finisher Jeff Burton.
This was Stewart’s fourth win in the July race at Daytona and his 18th career Daytona victory. More importantly, it moved him up to fifth in the championship standings and he tied with Keselowski for most wins this season with three. This puts Stewart in prime position to defend his title.
Rounding out the rest of the top behind Stewart and Burton were, Kenseth, Joey Logano, Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Kahne, Keselowski, Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte.