Daytona Shootout: Stewart race report

Strong Showing for Stewart in Budweiser Shootout DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 12, 2005) - With five laps to go in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Tony Stewart was looking at...

Strong Showing for Stewart in Budweiser Shootout

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla., (Feb. 12, 2005) - With five laps to go in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Daytona International Speedway, Tony Stewart was looking at the back bumpers of many a race car - 11 to be exact. Stewart and his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet were 12th in the remaining 18-car field, but in the final five laps en route to the checkered flag, Stewart juked and jived his way to a strong fourth-place finish after an unsuccessful bid to usurp third-place from Jeff Gordon.

"We had a good run. We got hung out there at the beginning and got dropped all the way back," said Stewart, who started the 70-lap race from the eighth spot. "Once we got back there we just had to work our way forward. We didn't have any help from anybody, which was fine. We can do it on our own. We got to fourth on our own and we can do it again next week."

Stewart's late race charge in yet another restrictor plate race - albeit a non-points restrictor plate race - has become his signature at Daytona and Talladega (Ala.), the other restrictor plate track on the Nextel Cup circuit. Seemingly out of contention with five or 10 laps remaining, Stewart has shown a penchant for vying for the lead in the closing laps.

"I'd like to get up there a little earlier and not do that big charge at the end like that and make some hairy moves, but we had a good car that could do that tonight," said Stewart. "We had a really good race car. I think our 500 car is a better car than this even. We just couldn't get ourselves in position to get back up in the lead. But after we were the last car in the pack with about five to go, to end up fourth - I think we did pretty good job.

"We didn't get much help, but we'll get what we need next weekend. Once they see how strong our other car is, they're going to want to work with us."

Winning the precursor to next Sunday's Daytona 500 was Jimmie Johnson. Johnson led the final 16 laps to capture his first Budweiser Shootout as well as his first Daytona victory. Ryan Newman followed Johnson across the line in second while Gordon held onto third. Stewart edged Greg Biffle - who proved strong early as he led a race-high 44 laps - to hold onto the fourth spot with Biffle having to settle for fifth. And rounding out the remainder of the top-10 was reigning Nextel Cup champion Kurt Busch, defending Shootout winner Dale Earnhardt Jr., Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte.

Next up for Stewart and Co. is Nextel Cup qualifying, which will set the front row for the Daytona 500. That gets underway tomorrow at 1:10 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by FOX. The Gatorade Duel - twin 150-lap races which will set the rest of the field - follow on Thurs., Feb. 17 with live coverage by FX beginning at 1 p.m. All of this culminates with the Daytona 500 on Sun., Feb. 20 at 2 p.m., which can also be seen live on FOX.

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Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Bobby Labonte , Tony Stewart , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Mark Martin
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing