|Three-time Sprint Cup Champion Tony Stewart
(Photo from Stewarts’ twitter account)
When most NASCAR fans speak of Tony Stewart, usually one of the first comments you hear is “he can win in any division, on any racetrack.” With that statement proving true throughout Stewart’s thirteen years in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series, along with his third and most recent 2011 championship, Tony has proven he is one of NASCAR’s most successful drivers.
However, the word ‘irony‘ comes to mind when considering Stewart has three summer-time wins at the famous Daytona track in ’05, ’06 and ‘09, yet a coveted Daytona 500 win remains elusive within his NASCAR career since 1999. Winning three summer races at Daytona is remarkable when you realize, Stewart is one of only a few Cup drivers to achieve this feat in the track’s history, including Richard Petty with three, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough and Fireball Roberts with four and David Pearson with an amazing five wins, contributing to their legendary status.
|With less than 30 laps to go Tony Stewart
has a wild ride in the 2001 Daytona 500
(photo from Racing on the Edge)
Tony Stewart’s luck with Daytona’s season opener, known as the great American race, is reminiscent of Dale Earnhardt, Sr., who won his first Daytona 500 in 1998, just three years prior to his death in 2001. In 2001 it appeared Stewart was in the mix to contend with a shot to win the Daytona 500 until a crash sent him end over end causing a left shoulder injury and taking away his chance at winning. Sadly the life of NASCAR legend, Dale Earnhardt, Sr. was also taken on the same day.
In 2002 Stewart again appeared to have a great car throughout speedweeks and was a favorite to win the 500. But with only two laps into the race, his engine let go, forcing him to settle for a 43rd place finish. Stewart went on to rebound in the same season and win his first Sprint Cup championship.
|Tony Stewart finishes 3rd
in 2008 Daytona 500
(photo from upi.com)
Written by Stephen McCall and Sharon Burton