Mobil1/Office Depot Racing: Stewart Finishes 11th In Shootout
Mobil 1/Office Depot Driver Leads Three Times for Four Laps in Non-Points Race
Tony Stewart started strong in Saturday night’s Budweiser Shootout at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) lined up second in the non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race and led three times for four laps. But intermittent radio issues and incidental contact with Michael Waltrip relegated Stewart to an 11th-place finish when the checkered flag dropped on the 75-lap contest.
“I wish I knew what I did wrong to turn Michael,” said Stewart after finishing outside the top-10 for only the second time in 12 career Budweiser Shootout starts. “I honestly don’t know. You can only see the car in front of you.”
Stewart was a mainstay at the front of the field until the end of the race’s first segment on lap 25. He led laps 1-2, 7 and 12, but following the 10-minute break, he lost radio communication with his team. It came back just as the field returned to green, but went in and out the rest of the race, and played a role in Stewart’s contact with Waltrip.
With drivers having to align themselves in two-car drafts to make any headway toward the front of the field, it created a dicey game of bumper cars that sometimes led to drivers involuntarily spinning out their drafting partner. It happened when Mark Martin tagged Kyle Busch on lap 37 and it happened to Stewart when he got Waltrip loose in turn three on lap 49.
Stewart was able to continue on, but with his radio issues preventing him from always hearing his spotter, he played it safe for the rest of the race and rode behind his former teammate at Joe Gibbs Racing – Bobby Labonte – to finish 11th.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet Impala for SHR, finished third after leading three times for 18 laps. In fact, Newman held the lead on the very last lap, but coming off turn four, his challengers used sling-shot moves to scoot around his WIX Filters Chevy, relegating him to third.
Newman earned his way into the race by winning the 2008 Daytona 500. Stewart is a three-time winner of the Budweiser Shootout and a two-time Sprint Cup champion.
This year’s field included 24 drivers.
Kurt Busch won the Budweiser Shootout to score his first Budweiser Shootout victory and his first restrictor-plate win of any kind. Defending Daytona 500 champion Jamie McMurray finished .058 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Newman, Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte comprised the remainder of the top-10.
Next up for SHR is Daytona 500 qualifying, where Stewart and Newman will be among 48 drivers going for the pole for the 53rd annual Daytona 500. Qualifying is set to get underway at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday with live coverage provided by FOX. The Gatorade Duel – twin 150-lap races which will set the rest of the Daytona 500 field – takes place at 2 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 17 with live coverage on SPEED. Speedweeks then culminates with the Daytona 500 at 1 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 20, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at noon.