Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em, Boys!

Tony Stewart

(WOMR file photo)

When “The Smoke” cleared, at the midsummer’s night classic at Daytona International Speedway Saturday night, Tony Stewart was the winner.

However, even though Stewart took the checkered flag for the third win of the season from his team, Saturday night, the real story was the pure dominance of the tandem of Roush-Fenway drivers of Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle!  For the first 125 laps of the race, those two teammates, of Kenseth and Greg Biffle ,ruled with an iron fist, and controlled the preferred bottom lane of the track, leading 118 of those laps.

But because of a wreck as Biffle was pitting on lap 125 of the 160-lap race, he was penalized, and he and Kenseth were separated on the track for the restart.

That gave the lead, and the bottom of the track, to Stewart.  And Smoke was not leaving the yellow line unprotected, under no circumstances! At Daytona, and Talladega, the yellow lines are your friends!

With nine laps to go, Kenseth and Biffle, reunited again were able to inch ahead of Stewart from the outside line. Nobody all night was able to accomplish that task, with the exception of that duo.  Simultaneously, Denny Hamlin got loose and that started a wreck just behind the leaders.

Among drivers involved were Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Trevor Bayne, David Ragan, Juan Pablo Montoya, Casey Mears and Jeff Gordon.

On the restart, Kenseth was on the pole with Stewart to his right. Behind them were Biffle and Kasey Kahne.

The race went green with two laps to go.

On the backstretch on the final lap, Stewart, without the benefit of a pushing partner, surged ahead of Kenseth, and into the lead. He then dropped to the bottom line and hugged it like a long-lost friend, to the checkered flag.

“Happy to get third, but on the other hand,” Kenseth said, “I am incredibly disappointed. My team kind of deserved to be down there holding the hardware and I kind of let them down. But overall, we had a really fast car, we had a pretty good race, made our way back to the front after the pit road thing and were in contention, just didn’t get it done that last lap.”

Behind the leaders another big crash occurred but Stewart held on for the win.

With this win, Stewart now has 18 career victories at the “World Center of Racing”, second all-time behind Dale Earnhardt (34). The win was also Stewart’s third of the year and ties him with Brad Keselowski for the most victories this season.

“This is 18 wins at Daytona,” said Stewart. “All of them are special and it’s the second time this year we’ve been in Victory Lane at Daytona, so I’m really proud of (my crew). I wish I could trade a couple of these races in for just one Sunday race in February. It’s just being at the right place at the right time. We’re still trying to win the Daytona 500.”

Here is the unofficial results of the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.

Next week the series travels to the Northeast, the magic mile in Louden N.H.


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