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Stewart out-foxes Kenseth to win at Daytona

"We just had to try to separate the #17 and #16 there. And once we got them pulled apart, I think Matt tried to reconnect with Greg, and we carried enough momentum to get back around in front of him and get down on that bottom line," he said. "I tried to back up to Matt to make sure they didn't get a huge run on us. They were coming on the outside in three and four and the last wreck happened, and we were just fortunate enough to be leading still.”

A surprise second place went to Jeff Burton, almost anonymous all evening until the late wrecks presented him with an opportunity to sneak through.

"I'd like to say it was skill," laughed Burton of his manoeuvring around the wrecks which caught out his drafting partner, Kevin Harvick. "But a lot of it is luck!"

Kenseth had to settle for third place despite having led for 89 of the 160 laps, and it was little consolation to him. "I'm really disappointed. We thought we had one of the best cars. I was hoping it was gonna be me or the #16 in victory lane. I don't know, it's hard to figure out.

"I got separated from Greg because they pulled him off me," he explained. "I should have just stayed on his door and stayed with him and let the chips fall where they may, but I didn't know what else was coming so I slowed up to try to bring Greg with me because he had been so good all night and I was hoping to get a run."

He added: "I'm happy to get third, but yet on the other hand I'm incredibly disappointed because I feel like my team kind of deserved to be down there holding the hardware and I kind of let them down."

Third place was still plenty good enough to keep him at the top of the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship standings, and indeed he almost doubled his points margin over those of his rivals caught up in the late wrecks.

In all, Tony Stewart has now won four Cup races at Daytona and 18 races here in total: "I wish I could explain it,” said Stewart of his success at this type of track. "The great thing about restrictor plate racing is that 43 cars all have the same shot at winning the race, but that's also part of what makes it frustrating, too. It's just being at the right place at the right time, and when those last two big wrecks happened, we were in the right spot. We were ahead of them both times."

But none of them have ever been the big one, the Daytona 500, NASCAR's most prestigious event of the entire year. And it's won the former Indy Racing League champion dearly wants, since he also never got to win the famous Indianapolis 500 either.

"I'll trade 'em all in for just one Daytona 500," admitted the reigning Sprint Cup champion. "This is 18 wins at Daytona, we just haven't got the right one yet. But all of them are special, and it's cool to do this."

Full race results available.




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