BUSCH: Stewart wins Daytona 300

BUSCH: Stewart wins Daytona 300

Watching the last three laps of the NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway, everyone was waiting for "the big one." The field was locked in a three-wide battle to the finish, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Michael Waltrip and...

Watching the last three laps of the NASCAR Busch Series race at Daytona International Speedway, everyone was waiting for "the big one." The field was locked in a three-wide battle to the finish, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Michael Waltrip and Tony Stewart locking horns.

Tony Stewart takes the checkered flag under yellow.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
Just as Stewart came across the line for the win, a melee broke out, with a dozen lead-lap cars spinning through the grass. Stewart led twelve laps on the way to his second Busch series career victory, his only other Busch win coming in this event one year ago.

"We were really bad to start with," said Stewart. "If you saw the changes we made, it would have scared you to drive it. We just --- I was going to stay with Jr. there, I had such a big run there was no way to stop, we would have both gotten blown by, and so I just had to take it."

The victory today gave Stewart his seventh career win at Daytona. "It was a cool race," he commented. "I am really proud of (crew chief) Wally Rogers and all the guys on this team and all the adjustments they made on the Monte Carlo SS. I was happy with the progress the car made all day; we just worked our way to the front."

Burney Lamar finished second in his first start at Daytona, making it a one-two finish for Kevin Harvick Incorporated Racing.

"I was just happy to finish the Busch race. That was actually the first one I ever finished. I can't say enough about the team. Kevin and Delana (Harvick) put together a championship team," expressed Lamar.

Clint Bowyer was third in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. "That was fun. I don't know how it gets any funner than that. Pretty crazy and wild out there," he said. "We had a fast car.it was a lot of fun."

JTG Racing's Jon Wood placed his Ford ahead of Kevin Harvick driving for RCR to round out the top five.

Stacy Compton and Elliott Sadler originally scored in the top five were rescored after a lengthy review of the tape. Both Ford drivers were involved in the last lap crash just at the finish line. Compton ended up 26th and Sadler 28th.

Crash at the finish line: Jason Keller and Denny Hamlin.
Photo by Eric Gilbert.
"That was wild," commented Sadler about the finish. "I think the 77 got bumped a little bit, I don't know if he got messed up with the 33 or not, but something happened and he had to check up a little bit in front of Stacy and I, and we just all piled up from there. It's a shame to battle back from two laps down."

The Robert Yates Racing driver, like many of the Nextel Cup regulars, will battle again tomorrow afternoon. Sadler hopes to notch the 500 victory but knows that anything can happen on the Daytona oval.

"It's a shame to tear up that many cars on the last couple hundred yards to the checkered flag, but that's restrictor plate racing and that's what it's all about at Daytona and Talladega," explained Sadler.

A late race caution with eight to go set up a duel to the checkers between Earnhardt, Waltrip and Stewart. The lead changed hands a few times with Earnhardt getting shuffled back leaving it to Stewart and Waltrip. After a hard fought battle, Waltrip just didn't have enough steam to overtake Stewart.

The race was marred by ten cautions. Several blown tires slowed the races early laps with a handful of incidents stretching out the closing laps of the event. The races only big crash came on the last lap and involved eleven cars.

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