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Stewart Wins Fourth Consecutive Daytona NASCAR Nationwide Series Race
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—With a shove from Landon Cassill, Tony Stewart surged past Clint Bowyer at the finish line to win Saturday’s season-opening Drive4COPD 300, his fourth straight NASCAR Nationwide Series victory at Daytona International Speedway.
Bowyer ran second .007 seconds behind Stewart. Cassill came home third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had pushed Bowyer for six laps after a restart on Lap 115 of the 120-lap race. The margin of victory was the third-closest in series history and the closest ever for a NASCAR Nationwide finish at Daytona.
2010 Photo From Chicagoland Speedway
Danica Patrick finished 14th, one lap down, her best result in 14 NASCAR Nationwide starts.
Cassill also was involved in another pivotal moment of the race.
With the field bunched after a restart on Lap 104, Cassill moved down on drafting partner Brad Keselowski, knocking Keselowski’s No. 22 Dodge into the infield grass. Keselowski, the defending NASCAR Nationwide Series champion, turned back across the track and sandwiched the No. 39 Ford of Josh Wise against the outside wall in the tri-oval, then bounced off the wall himself.
The crash ended Keselowski’s streak of 102 straight races without a DNF (did not finish).
It was restrictor-plate racing like no one had ever seen before. By Lap 55 of 120, a paired-up four-car breakaway involving the tandems of Keselowski-Trevor Bayne and Kyle Busch-Joey Logano had opened a 17-second lead over Stewart and Bowyer, who were running fifth and sixth at the time.
By the time NASCAR called a debris caution on Lap 100, there were only 12 cars on the lead lap—unheard of in modern-day restrictor plate racing, which typically features large packs of cars racing in close quarters within a few seconds of each other.
FINAL RESULTS (Unofficial)
1 Tony Stewart
2 Clint Bowyer
3 Landon Cassill
4 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5 Reed Sorenson
6 Jason Leffler
7 Kyle Busch
8 Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
9 Michael Waltrip
10 Trevor Bayne
11 Kasey Kahne
12 Joey Logano
13 Mike Bliss
14 Danica Patrick
15 Joe Nemechek
16 Jeremy Clements
17 Bobby Santos
18 Todd Bodine
19 Aric Almirola
20 Steve Wallace
21 David Starr
22 Shelby Howard
23 Donnie Neuenberger
24 Patrick Sheltra
25 Derrike Cope
26 Morgan Shepherd
27 Justin Allgaier
28 Kenny Wallace
29 Carl Edwards
30 Brad Keselowski
31 Josh Wise
32 Robert Richardson Jr.
33 Eric McClure
34 Brian Scott
35 Scott Wimmer
36 Sam Hornish Jr.
37 Mike Wallace
38 Elliott Sadler
39 Michael Annett
40 Jeff Green
41 Kevin Lepage
42 J.R. Fitzpatrick
43 Kelly Bires
Danica Patrick Makes NASCAR History in Vegas
Danica Patrick finished fourth in Saturday's Nationwide race in Vegas Saturday
“We just had a good car, that’s all I can say. That’s what makes a difference in these things,” said Patrick. “I know I haven’t had the best results, especially in NASCAR, but we’re getting them now.”
Patrick had a pretty fast car throughout the entire race and only went a lap down because of the way that green flag pit stops had cycled and was able to get that lap back because of a cluster of cautions in the last half of the race. (Previously, Patrick had gone laps down because of a lack of speed, not bad luck)
Did Patrick have a top 15 car throughout Saturday? Yes. Did she have a top 10 car? Possibly. A top five car? Probably not. That fourth-place finish is the product of fuel mileage racing, as the last 59 laps of the race ran green. That meant that Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin, who had dominated the race up until the final laps, had to pit because they didn't come to pit road on the final caution like Patrick and others, including eventual race winner Mark Martin.
Patrick's lone IndyCar win has been marked with the fuel mileage asterisk because on that day in Japan, those same circumstances played in her favor. She topped off on the final caution flag because she was at the back of the lead lap and made it to the finish on fuel while the leaders had to pit.
This finish will be treated the same way by those who use that asterisk, but that doesn't mean it was a total mirage. Patrick was able to hang with the faster cars on the track and didn't look outmatched, something she really couldn't say last year. Does this automatically mean that she'll be a superstar on the track in NASCAR? Of course not. But just 16 races into her Nationwide career, Patrick showed Saturday that the potential for better finishes is there.
Michael Waltrip, No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Toyota Camry - finished ninth
Race Summary: No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Racing Toyota driver Michael Waltrip finished ninth in Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona International Speedway.
After winning the truck series race on Friday night, Waltrip had a chance to grab his first win at Daytona in a Nationwide race. The two-time Daytona 500 winner cautiously ran the first half of the race to avoid the big wreck that normally takes out many cars at Daytona. The strategy worked as Waltrip dodge all accidents then put himself in a position to win at the end of the 300-mile race. He lined-up third when the field took the green flag for the final three laps. Unfortunately, Waltrip was unable to find a drafting partner and crossed the finish line ninth. Ryan Truex makes his 2011 debut in the No. 99 Toyota at Phoenix International Raceway on Saturday. Travis Pastrana returns to NASCAR action when he races in the K&N Pro Series West race on Thursday.
Michael Waltrip, No. 99 Pastrana-Waltrip Toyota
· Michael Waltrip started 25th and finished ninth
· Cautiously ran the first half of the race. Moved to third with three laps remaining.
· Struggled to find a drafting partner throughout the race.
· Scored his 10th top-10 finish in 26 Nationwide starts at Daytona
· After Friday’s truck series victory, Waltrip became the first driver to win in four different decades in NASCAR National Series competition and he did it in all three national series
· When Waltrip takes the green flag for the Daytona 500 on Sunday he will tie Richard Petty for the most starts—74—at Daytona in NASCAR points races.
MICHAEL WALTRIP QUOTE: “It was disappointing. I should’ve helped Trevor (Bayne) at the end, but I just screwed up. I should’ve let him get in line and I didn’t and then I didn’t have anybody to draft with. Kasey (Kahne) got there, but it was too late. Yesterday was perfect and it felt awesome and today everything just seemed to keep going wrong. I had a shot, but I just made a mistake.”
NNS Racing Results
· Tony Stewart edged Clint Bowyer by .007 seconds to score his fourth consecutive February victory at Daytona
· Landon Cassill, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top five.
· The race featured 35 lead changes among eight drivers.
· Five cautions slowed the race 25 laps.
· The race lasted 2 hours and 8 minutes.
· NASCAR estimated 82,000 race fans in attendance at Daytona International Speedway.
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