DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It took Tony Stewart just five hours to go from brooding over his battered Daytona 500 car to celebrating a victory in the season-opening NASCAR Nationwide Series race.
The two-time Cup champion held off a last-lap challenge from Kyle Busch to win the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.
“After this morning, it’s great,” said Stewart, who lost his Daytona 500 car and that of teammate Ryan Newman to wrecks in morning practice. “This is a good way to rebound.”
Stewart passed 23 cars in 11 laps to get back into contention after pitting with 30 laps to go in the 120-lap Camping World 300, then hung onto the lead as Busch, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer fought for position.
Stewart gave up the third spot to pit during a caution on lap 91, falling far off the pace for the restart on lap 94.
Driving a Chevrolet for longtime friend Rick Hendrick, he charged to the front, several times passing cars while sandwiched in the middle of three-wide battles.
On the final lap, Busch moved up to Stewart’s rear bumper and gave him a nudge. Stewart’s car wobbled and drifted high, but somehow he stayed just ahead of Busch.