TONY STEWART PUTS CHEVY IN WINNER'S CIRCLE WITH CONVINCING WIN IN THE FIRST GATORADE DUEL AT DAYTONA Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, made his second definitive statement of Daytona Speedweeks with a convincing win in the first of...
TONY STEWART PUTS CHEVY IN WINNER'S CIRCLE WITH CONVINCING WIN IN THE FIRST GATORADE DUEL AT DAYTONA
Tony Stewart, No. 20 Home Depot Monte Carlo SS, made his second definitive statement of Daytona Speedweeks with a convincing win in the first of two Gatorade Duel at Daytona races. Stewart won the Budweiser Shootout last Saturday night, Feb. 10.
Stewart led 37 of the 63 laps to secure in inside second row starting spot for Sunday's 49th running of the Daytona 500.
Stewart was followed across the finish line by his favorite restrictor-plate track drafting partner, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., No. 8 Budweiser Monte Carlo SS.
Jeff Burton, No. 31 Cingular Wireless Monte Carlo SS, finished third, followed by David Gillilund. Denny Hamlin, No. 11 FedEx Express Monte Carlo SS, rounded out the top-five positions.
Three more Chevys captured top-10 spots in the finishing order. Clint Bowyer, No. 07 Jack Daniels Monte Carlo SS finished sixth, followed by Martin Truex, Jr., No. 1 Bass Pro Shops Monte Carlo SS, in seventh. Casey Mears, No. 25 National Guard/GMAC Monte Carlo SS, finished eighth in his first race for Hendrick Motorsports.
TONY STEWART, NO. 20 HOME DEPOT MONTE CARLO SS - Winner
DO YOU LIKE WHERE YOU STAND NOW WITH THIS PACKAGE? "I feel real good about it. There are no guarantees, obviously. We've got a lot of good cars that were in our race there. Anybody who can go from a lap down and get to second (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) has a pretty strong car too. But this Home Depot Monte Carlo SS is awesome. This Chevy has been bad to the bone all week. It's been that way all year for us no matter whether we're at the Chili Bowl or here."
THERE IS A SPOT IN THE WALL OF FAME RESERVED FOR THIS YEAR'S WINNER. YOU SAID THAT'S WHERE YOU HOPE TO HAVE YOUR PICTURE. "Yeah, the qualifying races and shootouts and the July race are great, but I really want this race on Sunday badly."
TALK ABOUT THE RACE TODAY "We had a good car. We kind of sat there at the beginning behind Denny (Hamlin) and really nothing got going on the inside lane. The outside took off. We finally made the decision that we needed to go - and get ourselves going forward instead of backwards. So we just got a good run there. Dale Junior and I were a good combination. I had him starting behind me and we both worked our way up to the front there and it was just a matter of trying to stay there."
DID YOU HAVE MUCH OPPORTUNITY TO GO UP TOP TO SEE WHAT THE CAR MIGHT DO ON SUNDAY? "I didn't do it today. We have two more days of practice. I was up there a lot yesterday. So I know what we've got. I felt like I could win the race from the bottom."
YOU HAD A CLOSE CALL WITH CLINT BOWYER ON PIT ROAD. HOW CLOSE WAS IT FROM THE DRIVER'S SEAT? "It wasn't bad. I just wasn't going to give up the spot that I had there. He didn't do anything wrong. I knew the grass was there so I could take it and I just wasn't going to slow down to where I'd let somebody else get in between us. He didn't do anything wrong. He gave me plenty of room there. He didn't just run me all the way to the grass. He was real good about it. So it wasn't a close call. The Daytona maintenance crew does a great job with their lawns here."
YOU'VE HAD A GREAT CAR HERE BEFORE. HOW GOOD DO YOU FEEL ABOUT YOUR CHANCES ON SUNDAY? "We'll wait and see. I'm excited about it. I wish the race was tomorrow; let's put it that way."
DALE EARNHARDT, JR., NO. 8 BUDWEISER MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 2nd
ON RECOVERY: "My crew did a great job today. They made a lot of pit stops there to make sure everything was straight. When you spin around, the pressure changes inside and the crush panels blow out and you won't even know it and cut a tire down but you won't see any damage on the car. They looked it over really good and did good. The car drove pretty good. We probably have some suspension components that are bent that we have to change because the steering wheel was a little off and it was a little darty.
"Good Bud Chevy. Tony (Stewart) is fast. You saw the cream of the crop there at the front of the field. We have a pretty good car and I was really proud of my team today.
ON CONTACT WITH MICHAEL (WALTRIP): "I was surprised. Sometimes people get real tight coming up off that corner. It is a bad place to lose a nose and it happens a lot. I am suspect that is the case. I don't think Michael would do anything like that intentionally to anybody. He is a pretty nice guy."
ON MICHAEL MAKING THE 500 FIELD. "He is a great drafter, a great racer at the restrictor plate tracks. It is no surprise to me. "
ON HIS DAY TODAY: "I am really happy. I hope my guys are happy, we worked really hard. We overcame some adversity Hope that pleases them because I am pretty pleased."
CLINT BOWYER, NO. 07 JACK DANIELS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 14th
ON TODAY'S DUEL: "Really excited about the car. I think the Jack Daniels Chevy is going to be good. It takes it a lap or two to get going, but if we get some help, we are really strong. I made a mistake there, but you learn from them. I let Stewart get under me. I feel like we are going to be really good in the 500 and I am excited about that.
ON HANDLING IN THE DRAFT: "After qualifying, I was a little bit worried but it doesn't mean anything. Our cars always drive here and that is what counts here."
MARTIN TRUEX, JR., NO. 1 BASS PRO SHOPS/TRACKER BOATS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 6th
"The car pushes real well in the draft. It could be the best car I've had here in Daytona. We just got hung out to dry a couple of times. We'll be fine for the race."
DENNY HAMLIN, NO. 11 FEDEX EXPRESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 5th:
HOW MUCH BETTER WAS YOUR CAR TODAY FROM WHERE YOU HAVE BEEN ALL WEEK? "It got a little bit better for sure. It was a lot easier to stay up there. Our car was pretty good. I'm looking forward to Sunday and the practices we have leading up to it."
DO TODAY'S WEATHER CONDITIONS DO ANYTHING TO HELP YOU FOR SUNDAY? HOW MUCH WILL THINGS CHANGE IF THE SUN COMES OUT SUNDAY? "It (the sun) will change everything a lot. There was a lot of grip out there on the race track. We really got a lot of laps on the tires. The car really didn't move around much. Our car was pretty decent. We needed some help from behind but we got a good top-10 starting spot for the 500."
JEFF BURTON, NO. 31 CINGULAR WIRELESS MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 4th
ARE YOU PLEASED OVERALL WITH THE EFFORT OF THE CAR TODAY? "Yeah, I'm real pleased with it. We were real competitive. We had a really good chance of trying to get a win. We needed to be better at the end of the race but I'm real proud of the effort we put in and real proud of all the work the guys did. We left here Sunday pretty disappointed but I'm feeling pretty good about our race car. Today (it) looks like we know what we are doing, maybe we can do that Sunday."
HOW MUCH BETTER HAS THIS CAR GOTTEN IN THE LAST FOUR DAYS? "Well we had put no effort in our qualifying to be quite honest. Everything we've done has been trying to build a car that would go faster in race trim. Handling is real important. We worked real hard on that and that's where all of our emphasis went. Hopefully that will pay off Sunday."
CASEY MEARS, NO. 25 NATIONAL GUARD/GMAC MONTE CARLO SS - Finished 9th:
ON HIS RUN: "It was a really good run for us. Obviously you want to win races but these are, at the end of the day, qualifying races. The main thing you want to do is come out here clean and not have any issues. Fortunately I did that. The car looked good at the end of the race. I think we learned a lot handling wise and I've been real happy with Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and our communication. It was a good starter race to get everybody up to speed, pit stops and all that kind of stuff."
ON NEEDING A PUSH AT THE END OF THE RACE: "Yeah, what happened was the 55 helped me pretty much the whole time because he wanted to get to the front. When I saw the opportunity to get a big run, if he would of went with me at the time, we could have gotten way up there. I think he was playing a safe route because of his situation. He didn't want to mess up so he went back down to the bottom and it hung us out a spot or two but at the end of the day it was a good race for us."
-credit: gm racing