Former Joe Gibbs Racing teammates provide fireworks on the last lap at Daytona
Tony Stewart celebrates his second points win of the season after claiming victory at Daytona International Speedway(Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship points leader tangled with a familiar foe on the last lap at Daytona. Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch were teammates at Joe Gibbs Racing in 2008 before Stewart left to start his own racing team. Things are looking good for Stewart as the season schedule hits the halfway mark in the race to the Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov.22. Saturday’s victory allowed Tony Stewart to stretch his lead over Jeff Gordon to 180 points.
When the field streamed out of Turn 4, fans were not prepared for the fireworks that were about to begin on the frontstretch at Daytona. By the time Stewart took the checkered flag, Kyle Busch’s car looked like it had been through a trash compactor after losing a high-speed duel with Stewart. Busch took the lead coming to the white flag, but couldn’t hold the top spot coming to the checkers in the tri-oval. The two cars came together as Busch was trying to protect his line on the final lap. Busch drifted up and was clipped in the rear by Tony Stewart as the field hurtled towards the checkered flag.
“If I did get into him I’m sorry,” said a conciliatory Stewart of his former teammate, Busch. “But I don’t think that I did.”
“I got up beside the quarter panel and that’s what you do in that situation,” said Stewart in Victory Lane. “I didn’t expect him to come up and when he did that turned him.”
The ensuing contact sent Busch into the outside wall before his car was hit twice as the field came to the start/finish. After Busch’s crumpled car slid across the line in 14th, he made no comment when leaving the infield care center. Initially, he tried to walk toward victory lane to confront Stewart, but was held in check by officials.
Before the crash-marred finish, the race was hard on several drivers trying to stay in the Top 12 positions in the Chase for the Championship, which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s chances are remote after getting collected in a 13-car incident on lap 78; he finished 39th and has fallen to 21st in the points. After an early race incident, fan favorite Mark Martin dropped from 11th to 13th place behind Kasey Kahne who has risen to 12th place.