My Guy Tony Stewart winz Daytona Coke 400…again
Stewart Scores Fourth Coke Zero 400 Win at Daytona
Mobil 1/Office Depot Driver Rallies from 42nd To Take 18th Overall Win at Daytona
Date: July 7, 2012
Event: Coke Zero 400 (Round 18 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway (2.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 42nd/1st (Running, completed 160 of 160 laps)
Point Standing: 5th (592 points, 84 out of first; 51 ahead of 11th)
Winner: Tony Stewart of Stewart-Haas Racing (Chevrolet)
Tony Stewart may not embrace restrictor-plate racing, where drivers have to rely on one another to push and pull themselves around the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series’ two “plate” tracks – Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway and Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. But the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) certainly can embrace a trophy.
Such was the case Saturday night at Daytona when Stewart grabbed his fourth Coke Zero 400 victory with a stirring, last-lap pass that delivered his third win of 2012, tying three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Stewart with Brad Keselowski for the most victories this season.
“I wish I could explain it,” said Stewart, who has five restrictor-plate victories in Sprint Cup, with four coming at Daytona. “The great thing about restrictor-plate racing is that 43 cars all have the same shot at winning the race, but that’s also part of what makes it frustrating, too. It’s just being at the right place at the right time, and when those last two big wrecks happened, we were in the right spot. We were ahead of them both times.”
Stewart took the lead on lap 131 after a multi-car accident in turn four and led for 21 laps before relinquishing the spot to the duo of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle on lap 152. When another massive crash set up a two-lap dash to the finish, Stewart regained the lead on the final lap with an impressive drive around Biffle and Kenseth off turn two and down the backstretch.
With one last multi-car wreck coming on the final lap as the field raced toward the checkered flag, the yellow caution lights came on, securing Stewart’s victory. The win was the 47th of Stewart’s impressive Sprint Cup career. Even more impressive was that Stewart took the win after starting 42nd in the 43-car field.
Stewart qualified second, but his time was disallowed by NASCAR after his car failed post-qualifying inspection. The team had an open cooling hose in the cockpit, which is in violation of Rule 20A-2.1J in the NASCAR rulebook. The cap that went on the cooling hose fell off during the qualifying run. While there was no malicious intent by the team, NASCAR still had to assess the penalty, which sent Stewart to 42nd on the starting grid.
The victory moved Stewart into 14th on the all-time NASCAR Sprint Cup win list. He previously was tied with NASCAR Hall of Fame inductee Buck Baker. The win was Stewart’s 18th all-time at Daytona, which includes non-points Sprint Cup events, NASCAR Nationwide Series events and IROC races. The victory places Stewart second on the track’s all-time win list, 16 behind the legendary Dale Earnhardt (34). All four of Stewart’s points-paying Sprint Cup wins have come in the Coke Zero 400 (2005, 2006, 2009 and 2012).
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 on Sunday, July 15 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by TNT beginning with its pre-race show at noon.