Eighth in Duel Puts Stewart 15th in Daytona 500 Tony Stewart drove his ...
Eighth in Duel Puts Stewart 15th in Daytona 500
Tony Stewart drove his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet to a solid eighth-place finish in Thursday's first Gatorade Duel 150-mile qualifying race for the Daytona 500. As a result, the two-time NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series champion will start 15th in Sunday's Daytona 500.
"It was good when we were up front," said Stewart, who started the 64-lap race in 10th but worked his way to the lead by lap 14, holding the point for 15 laps. "We had a loose right rear wheel after our first pit stop, so we had to come back in, and once we got in the back, the car got tight. We just needed to stay up front. The (car's) balance was pretty good when were up front.
"We've got a car that's good. Make no doubt about that. Even being as tight as we were, we were still decent. We'll be fine. The good thing is that we've got Friday and Saturday to work on it, so we'll be fine."
Friday and Saturday mean two more days of practice before the 48th running of the Daytona 500, a race where Stewart has led 204 of an available 403 laps (51 percent) in the past two seasons.
Winning the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race was Elliott Sadler, while Carl Edwards Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth rounded-out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Stewart, Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10
Winning the second Gatorade Duel qualifying race was Jeff Gordon. Behind him were Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, Bobby Labonte and Mark Martin, who finished second through fifth, respectively. The rest of the top-10 consisted of Kyle Petty, Casey Mears, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Robby Gordon.
With the Gatorade Duel races having been decided, the field for the Daytona 500 is set. On the pole is Burton, and alongside him is Jeff Gordon. By notching the two quickest times during time trials last Sunday, both drivers were able to lock themselves into position for the Daytona 500. All the remaining drivers, however, had to race their way to a starting spot in the Gatorade Duel.
For the trio of Joe Gibbs Racing drivers, Stewart carries the flag with his 15th place starting spot. Hamlin's ninth-place effort in his Gatorade Duel race places him 17th for the Daytona 500. And J.J. Yeley starts the Daytona 500 in 36th after finishing 24th in the second Gatorade Duel race.
Those who didn't make the cut and will be forced to watch the Daytona 500 from the sidelines are Scott Riggs, Kenny Wallace, Scott Wimmer, Mike Skinner, Derrike Cope, Larry Gunselman, Chad Blount, Larry Foyt, Andy Belmont, Randy LaJoie, Morgan Shepherd, Chad Chaffin, Carl Long, Paul Menard and Stanton Barrett.
The green flag waves for the Daytona 500 on Sun., Feb. 19 at 2:30 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by NBC.