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Stewart Wins Coke Zero 400
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (July 4, 2009) — With Kyle Busch slamming the frontstretch wall after an unsuccessful attempt to block, Tony Stewart won Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
The victory was Stewart’s second of the season, his second as an owner/driver for Stewart-Haas Racing and the 35th of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career.
With a push from teammate Denny Hamlin, Busch had taken the lead approaching the white flag and held it through Turn 4 of the final lap. But Stewart drove his No. 14 Chevrolet to the left rear of Busch’s No. 18 Toyota off the corner, forcing Busch to go to the bottom of the track to maintain control of his car.
Stewart then moved high, and as Busch slid back up to block, contact with Stewart’s car turned Busch into the wall (aftermath pictured below) and ignited
a dramatic multicar wreck near the finish line.
Jimmie Johnson followed Stewart to the stripe, with Hamlin in third, Carl Edwards in fourth and Kurt Busch in fifth.
Were it not for trouble to most of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup “bubble” drivers, Mark Martin’s postseason aspirations might have suffered a significant setback, thanks to a wreck on Lap 13 that relegated him to a 38th-place finish.
As Martin exited Turn 2, Matt Kenseth gained momentum to the outside, and Martin’s Chevy wasn’t clear of Kenseth’s Ford when Martin moved up the track. Martin’s car spun into the infield and sustained serious damage.
“Matt ran the top side there and got a run up off the corner, and I was just trying to keep it down and leave us room, and I just pinched him,” Martin said. “Front wheels were cut, and it just didn’t turn quite enough. My fault.”
Martin’s wreck was nothing, however, compared with the 13-car pileup (pictured below) on Lap 77 that eliminated Dale Earnhardt Jr.
Contact between the Dodges of Kasey Kahne and David Stremme triggered the wreck, but the cars of Earnhardt and David Reutimann perhaps were the most severely damaged, as Reutimann slid up the track into Earnhardt’s path.
Reutimann entered the race 14th in points, 12 points out of 12th, the final position eligible for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He finished 33rd and lost ground.
“A couple of guys got together, and I just tried to stay high, and the No. 00 (Reutimann) was crossed up, and we got together with him pretty hard and tore the upper A-frame off the chassis,” said Earnhardt, who finished 39th.
Jeff Gordon was another victim of the Lap 77 wreck but was able to continue. Though his car was damaged too severely to contend for the win, Gordon stayed on the lead lap and finished 28th.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Point Standings click here
Race Recap Video Clip click here
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola
The Date: Saturday, July 4
The Track: Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile tri-oval)
The Time: 9 p.m. AT
The Distance: 400 miles/160 laps
TV: TNT, 7:30 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Paul Menard
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule: Thursday–Practice, 4-5:20 p.m. and 6:35-8 p.m. Friday–Qualifying, 4:10 p.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Qualifying Rained Out - Owner Points Put Stewart & Gordon on Front Row
Complete Starting Lineup click here
Thursday Final Practice Speed Chart click here Reutimann at top of chart
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- ‘Race To the Chase’ Rolls Into 2nd Week, At Daytona...One week down, nine more to go in the “Race to the Chase” which serves as the prelude to NASCAR’s “playoffs” – the “Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.”
The top 12 is thus the main focus as the schedule rolls on, with the start of the Chase, set for Sept. 20 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The Race to the Chase features some of the most historic tracks in all of racing: Indianapolis, Watkins Glen, Bristol – and this week, Daytona International Speedway, NASCAR’s premier facility in terms of both history and prestige.
Restrictor-plate racing throws a wild card into the deck that’s sure to be stacked with excitement for Saturday night’s Coke Zero 400 Powered by Coca-Cola. Tony Stewart (No. 14 Burger King Chevrolet) is the series points leader – and a two-time winner of Daytona’s summer race. Stewart leads Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) by 69 points but an even more intense battle rages further down in the top 12. From eighth place to 14th, the separation is only 71 points. From 10th to 14th, the gap is merely 17 points. “The heat is really on in that range,” said 11th-place Mark Martin (No. 5 Kellogg’s/CARQUEST Chevrolet).
In the middle of that maelstrom is none other than Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Target Chevrolet), holding down the tenuous 12th-place position for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing, somewhat surprisingly. Montoya, the 2000 Indianapolis 500 champion and former Formula One star, is in his third NASCAR season and appears to be acclimating. This is the first year of a merger between the former Chip Ganassi Racing With Felix Sabates organization and Dale Earnhardt Inc.
“When I came here my expectations were not that high,” Montoya said. “I think the ability is there [now] and the momentum is there ... we’ve just got to keep the ball rolling.”
- ‘Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style’ Coming To Site Of The Shootout...The advent of “Double-File Restarts – Shootout Style” in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series has been greeted enthusiastically thus far as an obvious boon to competition.
Enthusiasm will get a further boost Saturday night when the series races at Daytona International, home of the Budweiser Shootout each February, a non-points event that long has used the double-file restarts.
In addition, double-file restarts will debut in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in Friday night’s event.
Double-file restarts replace the previous approach of having lead-lap cars in one row on the outside and lapped cars in the other row alongside.
“I’m a big fan of this double-file restart stuff,” said Tony Stewart. “It’s so much fun restarting with the guys that you’re racing with and are used to running up front with and not having to deal with some of these other guys on the restarts that you sometimes have to deal with.”
Daytona’s high banks bring the added element of restrictor-plate racing, which Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M/Scotchbrite Ford) says will mix well with the new restarts.
“I think restrictor plate racing will be the biggest beneficiary of double-file restarts,” Biffle said. “We’re already racing two-wide and three-wide all the time already, why not start them two-wide.
“It totally makes sense.”
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