Stewart hopes to continue Daytona success

Tony Stewart says that there’s nothing he’s going to miss about Daytona (Florida) International Speedway.

His track record there would seem to suggest otherwise.

Including all of his races going back to the former IROC series, Stewart has won 19 times at Daytona, a number surpassed only by the late Dale Earnhardt Sr.

Stewart clearly has been successful at the Daytona summer race. He has won four times at Daytona in July, claiming the Pepsi 400 in 2005, 2006 and 2009 and, switching to a different soft drink, the Coke Zero 400 in 2012. In 34 points-paying starts at the track, he’s finished in the top 10 a whopping 14 times. His average finish in all Cup races at Daytona is 11.85 with his average starting position being 11.2. He’s finished runner-up twice, including in the summer race in 2013, and third once.

The 2005 Pepsi 400 was Stewart’s most dominant performance at Daytona. After starting on the pole, he led 151 of the event’s 160 laps en route to victory.

In the 2012 Daytona summer race, Stewart started 42nd and worked his way to Victory Lane, leading 22 laps in the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevy.

If the Columbus native is looking to sustain the momentum he gathered with a win last week at Sonoma, California, he appears to be in the right place.

Not only that, but it appears to be a good time as well. Stewart and first-year crew chief Mike Bugarewicz have been building their relationship on the fly since Stewart returned from his injury hiatus, and that relationship is now bearing fruit in terms of results.

“We’re not there yet,” Stewart said, “but we’ve still got time to get there and we’ve gained a bunch of ground in a short amount of time — and if we can keep making that ground and keep getting better, who knows?”

Final lap update

TODAY’S RACE

Coke Zero 400, 7:45 p.m. (NBC)

Starting position: (will need to be updated after qualifying, 4:10 Friday)

LAST RACE

Finished first in Toyota/SaveMart 350

CHASE FOR THE CUP

Last race: 44 points

Season total: 196 points (32nd)

Author photo
Ryan O'Leary is sports editor for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at roleary@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2715.