Daytona Shootout: Tony Stewart race notes

STEWART SECOND IN SHOOTOUT Home Depot Driver Leads Twice for Nine Laps in Exhibition Race Tony Stewart finished second in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, as Dale ...

STEWART SECOND IN SHOOTOUT
Home Depot Driver Leads Twice for Nine Laps in Exhibition Race

Tony Stewart finished second in Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway, as Dale Earnhardt Jr., edged the driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota by .136 of a second.

"I'm pretty happy with that because it's hard to beat Dale Jr.," said Stewart, who is a three-time winner of the Budweiser Shootout. "He's one of the best restrictor plate drivers there's ever been. He learned a lot from his dad, and I'm not sure he's not better than his dad now, in all honesty."

Stewart led twice for nine laps in the 70-lap, non-point-paying race, but Earnhardt and his Hendrick Motorsports teammates -- namely Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson -- proved too formidable for Stewart to overcome on his own.

"We can't be too disappointed," said Stewart, who had his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin push him late in the race with a car that was beat up from a lap-25 run-in with the No. 26 Ford of Jamie McMurray. "We were climbing an uphill battle. But when you get around guys you trust like that, it makes for some fun racing."

"There at the end I thought I had an opportunity to push Tony on the last lap," Hamlin said, "but by choosing to push him, it caused me to lose a bunch of spots. His victory would've been worth way more than my third-place finish. We were trying to do what we could to get him the win and just came up short."

Despite coming up short, the runner-up result gave Stewart an average Shootout finish of 4.2 -- the best among active drivers with more than one Shootout appearance.

Hamlin, who won the Shootout in 2006, finished this year's event in ninth.

The Budweiser Shootout is an exhibition race featuring pole winners from the previous Sprint Cup season and past Budweiser Shootout winners. This year's field included an event record 23 drivers.

Rounding out the top-five behind Earnhardt and Stewart were Johnson, Gordon and Reed Sorenson. Casey Mears, Dave Blaney, Mark Martin, Hamlin and Kasey Kahne comprised the rest of the top-10.

Next up for Stewart is Daytona 500 qualifying, where the two-time Sprint Cup champion will go out 36th among the 54 drivers vying for the pole for the 50th annual Daytona 500. Qualifying is set to get underway at 1:15 p.m. EST on Sunday with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX.

The Gatorade Duel -- twin 150-lap races which will set the field for the Daytona 500 -- takes place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14 with live coverage by SPEED. Speedweeks then culminates with the Daytona 500 at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 17, which can also be seen live on FOX.

-credit: hdr/jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Casey Mears , Jimmie Johnson , Kasey Kahne , Denny Hamlin , Reed Sorenson , Dave Blaney , Mark Martin
Teams Hendrick Motorsports , Joe Gibbs Racing