Countdown to the Daytona Shootout: Stewart

Countdown to the Budweiser Shootout: Tony Stewart 5 Days Before the Daytona Shootout Stewart's strategy: Go hard or go home (Monday, Feb. 2, 2004) -- The consensus on Tony Stewart is that if a cinder block had wheels, he would find a way to...

Countdown to the Budweiser Shootout: Tony Stewart

5 Days Before the Daytona Shootout
Stewart's strategy: Go hard or go home

(Monday, Feb. 2, 2004) -- The consensus on Tony Stewart is that if a cinder block had wheels, he would find a way to race it. If shopping carts had engines, he'd turn the lumber section at The Home Depot into a drag strip. Stewart will race anything.

That's why the 70-lap, no-holds-barred format of the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona is right down Stewart's alley. His two wins in four Shootout appearances and $477,000 in prize earnings proves it, and should he win again in five days, he'll join Dale Earnhardt as the only drivers with three or more Shootout victories.

"The Home Depot team is heading (into the Budweiser Shootout) with a go-for-broke attitude," the Rushville, Ind., native said. "There aren't any points involved. It's just money, a trophy and a lot of prestige. This is a lot shorter race. You're not going for 500 miles. It's just a long sprint, really. You've got a short amount of time to get your work done. So, you kind of throw caution to the wind. If you think you can go, well then, you better go."

Stewart's back-to-back wins in 2001 and 2002 made him only the third driver to accomplish consecutive victories in the Shootout. He also is one of only four drivers to win the Shootout and a NASCAR Winston Cup championship in the same year (2002). The Daytona 500, however, still eludes him, but Stewart feels the more Budweiser Shootouts he competes in, the better his chances are of earning that coveted prize.

"Racing in the Shootout gives you a little more freedom to go out and try things by using it as a practice session for the (Daytona) 500, because there's really nothing to lose," Stewart said. "You try things that maybe you wouldn't feel very comfortable with trying in the 500. If you find things that do work, you use 'em for the 500. If what you try doesn't work, you know what not to do for the 500. We're just going for broke and seeing what we can learn."

FUN WHILE IT LASTED: Stewart's stiffest competition may come from a guy who was his teammate on Sunday, Dale Earnhardt Jr. The two Nextel Cup stars partnered with Andy Wallace in the 24 Hours of Daytona and came away with a fifth-place finish. The trio led for a majority of the race in their No. 2 Howard-Boss Motorsports Chevrolet Crawford, but with 17 minutes to go, their Daytona prototype fell victim to a suspension problem that had been getting worse in the final hour.

Although their teammate days are over for now, Dale Jr. and Stewart have been known to work well together in the draft at superspeedway races.

SMOKE IN THE SHOOTOUT: Stewart won two Bud Pole Awards his rookie year (Martinsville and Bristol) to become eligible for the 2000 Shootout, and he has remained a part of the exclusive field ever since. Others who have won Bud Poles in their rookie seasons and have participated in Bud Shootouts every year since are Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman.

DALE JR. SCORES TWICE AT SUPER BOWL: For the sixth consecutive year, commercials from Anheuser-Busch, brewers of Budweiser and Bud Light, dominated USA TODAY's Ad Meter consumer rankings for the best commercials aired during the Super Bowl. While Bud Light's "Scruffy Dog" spot won top honors, Budweiser's commercial starring a chivalrous Dale Jr. returning his date's lipstick ("That's not mine...") finished seventh in the voting. A daydreaming Dale Jr. also scored a touchdown in his Budweiser Chevrolet in a spot for NEXTEL that was selected 10th overall. Seven Anheuser-Busch spots were in the top 11 poll positions among the more-than 60 ads shown.

The 26th running of the Budweiser Shootout is scheduled for Sat., Feb. 7. It can be seen live on TNT at 8 p.m. ET. For race tickets, call 1-800-PITSHOP or log on to www.1-800-Pitshop.com.

Anheuser-Busch's 12 U.S.-based breweries and network of more than 700 wholesalers reduce delivery time and ensure that fresh beer is in retail accounts shortly after packaging. As it reads on every beer package, Anheuser-Busch beers including Budweiser are at their peak of freshness and taste within 110 days from their "Born On" date.

-budweiser-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Andy Wallace , Dale Earnhardt , Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Ryan Newman