Saturday, February 13, 2010

Stewart Survives to Win Daytona Nationwide Series Race

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Driving for 3 different car owners, Tony Stewart has won the season opening race for the NASCAR Nationwide Series 4 of the past 5 times prior to the 2010 running of the 300 mile Saturday afternoon event.

As Friday rain showers prevented the NASCAR Nationwide Series teams to run qualifying, the field was settled on 2009 car owner points placing 2009 series champion Kyle Busch out front in the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota. The #60 Ford of Carl Edwards, the #88 Chevrolet being driven by Dale Earnhardt Jr, the #33 of Kevin Harvick, and the Richard Childress-owned #21 Chevrolet of John Wes Townley rounded out the top 5 starting positions.

Because of the multitude of series changes with some teams closing and others expanding, the formulation of this 2010 race's grid led to some jockeying for position even before the green dropped. Paul Menard, campaigning a #98 Ford Fusion, gained the final starting spot in the field through some of Daytona's infamous backdoor deals. Because the #98 team had in sufficient car owner points, the team made deals where they allegedly paid 5 other teams to withdraw from the event so Menard could start the race in the 43th and final grid spot.

Under a bright sky, the 43 NASCAR Nationwide series cars accelerated only to be brought to a crawl on lap 2 after the Chevrolets of Brad Teague and Chrissy Wallace ended their days with an accident on the frontstretch. When the race recommenced on lap 5, another accident slowed in the field just 3 laps later. This time, a turn 2 wreck involved 8 Nationwide cars. While some drivers were able to continue with minor damage like Brian Keselowski and Paul Menard, the finish concluded for youngster Trevor Bayne as well as Mike Bliss.

On the lap 11 restart, the RACE4COPD 300 underwent its longest green flag run through the 2010 event. Kevin Harvick, having taken the lead from Busch early, paced the field for much of the 41 lap distance which was interrupted by green flag pit stops. Through the event, the Race4COPD 300 was led by 12 different drivers which included Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, and Steven Wallace as the race progressed.

Having officially announced her intentions for running the NASCAR Nationwide Series Daytona 300 mile race just this Tuesday, Danica Patrick entered her first NASCAR stock car race confident after a strong 6th place finish in the ARCA race. Under the media microscope, Patrick #7 Chevrolet was a focus periodically through the ESPN broadcast since her start in 13th place. By the midway point, Patrick's run in the more competitive NASCAR Nationwide series proved more challenging along with her ill-handling Chevrolet stock car combining to a mid 30th place run through the first stage of the race. Through pitstops, she fell a lap down briefly but regained a lap during a caution on Daytona's 52nd circuit.

Provided with an opportunity to have some much-needed adjustments done to her #7 car, Danica Patrick began to prove herself competitive against stock car veterans breaking out of her early race slump. However, as Patrick day appeared to be reshaping for the better, a lap 68 incident put an end to the #7 Chevrolet's run along with 11 other race vehicles. Started when the Roush-Fenway Ford of Colin Braun got into Josh Wise going through the frontstretch. Wise's car was shot into another car which then created a major chain reaction. With a wall of sliding stock cars in front of her, Danica Patrick could see an opening on the lower part of the track. That gap closed just enough to catch the #7 car as Patrick clipped another car and flew into the outside wall.

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

With the lap 68 accident thought to be the big wreck of the 2010 race, a lap 93 caution would be thrown for a much scarier incident. On the superspeedway's backstretch, the #60 of Carl Edwards and #22 of Brad Keselowski brushed. Keselowski's Dodge slid into Dale Earnhardt Jr Hellman's #88 sending the JR Motorsports Chevrolet sideways towards the outside wall and airborne. Landing on its roof, the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch and #27 car of Greg Biffle were unable to avoid Earnhardt's car. Eventually ending up back on its wheels in the backstretch's infield, Earnhardt emerged uninjured from the badly mangled Chevrolet. Overall, 10 cars were involved in this final wreck which required a 11 minute red flag to clean up the 2.5 mile racetrack. Early race leader Kevin Harvick was also collected but was able to remain competitive. Also, the main culprits of the 6th caution, Keselowski and Edwards both continued to race suffering only minimal damage.

As the rush for position set in, Kyle Busch lost control of his #18 car through the turn 3 and 4 complex. During the cool down lap, Busch pinned blame on the #12 Dodge following him believing contact was made (replays showed no contact was made). Brad Keselowski has already established a rivalry between himself and Busch's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin.

Through the final 20 lap distance, Tony Stewart driving a #4 Oreo/Ritz-sponsored Kevin Harvick Incorporated Chevrolet held off the challenge of the remaining contenders. Stewart's car owner came home 3rd just behind the #60 Ford of Carl Edwards and ahead of the 4th place Justin Allgaier. James Buescher, who is competed in the ARCA race during Daytona Speedweeks, posted 8th place as the highest-finishing rookie.

Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images for NASCAR

2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series Race: Race4COPD 300 Daytona International Speedway Top 10 Finishers
1) 4 Tony Stewart     Ritz Crackers Chevrolet 
2) 60 Carl Edwards     Fastenal Ford 
3) 33 Kevin Harvick     Jimmy John's Chevrolet 
4) 12 Justin Allgaier     Verizon Wireless Dodge 
5) 32 Brian Vickers     Dollar General Toyota 
6) 98 Paul Menard     Menards Ford  
7) 20 Joey Logano     GameStop Toyota 
8) 1 James Buescher      Phoenix Racing Chevrolet
9) 38 Kasey Kahne     Great Clips Toyota 
10) 66 Steve Wallace     5 Hour Energy Toyota

Other Notables
13) 22 Brad Keselowski     Discount Tire Dodge
18) 18 Kyle Busch     Interstate Batteries Toyota
29) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Hellmann's Chevrolet
35) 7 Danica Patrick     Go Daddy Chevrolet

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