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Stewart repeats at Daytona.

Tony Stewart successfully defended his Pepsi 400 crown in dominant fashion at the Daytona International Speedway although it was rank outsider Boris Said who nearly stole the show on Saturday night.

He may not have led the number of laps that he did during the 2005 Pepsi 400 but Stewart and his #20 Joe Gibbs Racing team still had the car to beat around the 2.5-mile Daytona oval as the orange Home Depot backed Chevrolet led more than half of the 160 laps that made up the 17th round of the 2006 Nextel Cup Championship.

However despite his dominance, Stewart came within two laps of missing out on the win as a late pitstop gamble by the new #60 No Fear Racing team put polesitter Boris Said at the head of the pack with just nine laps remaining. Amazingly, on older tyres Said was able to keep the nose of his #60 Ford ahead of the rest of the field as Stewart battled his way from ninth on the restart to second before the caution flag waved again for the biggest crash of the evening with six tours remaining.

Despite his best efforts Said was no match for Stewart, who had earlier taken the lead away from the poleman on the opening lap and had proceeded to string the field out whenever possible thereafter. After getting a brief jump on the pack when the green flag waved on lap 157 it took Stewart until turn three on the restart lap to draw alongside Said and despite one concerted effort to block the defending Cup Series champion Stewart was through and away.

Stewart's decisiveness proved fortunate, for as the field took the white flag, debris was spotted in turn three to bring out the yellows once again and deny the 150,000 strong Daytona crowd a green flag finish. As Stewart had already taken the white flag there would be no green-white-chequered flag finish although after proving to be virtually impossible to pass all evening it is unlikely that the result would have been any different had the race gone into overtime.

The defending champ didn't have things all his own way though and for much of the night he ploughed a lone furrow against the might of Roush Racing and Hendrick Motorsports. At one point all four Hendrick entries occupied the top four slots with four of the five Roush cars also in the top ten. But after a night largely devoid of accidents, a flurry of late caution periods decimated the combined Hendrick and Roush assault.

First to go was points leader and Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson, who collected the very impressive Bobby Labonte in turn three with 14 laps remaining. Although Johnson was able to continue without losing a lap, his damaged car could do little but trail around at the tail of the field thereafter.

Less than ten laps later it was Johnson's teammate Jeff Gordon's turn to be swept up in a wreck, triggered when JJ Yeley ran into the back of a wandering Greg Biffle heading into turn one. With nowhere to go Gordon joined Biffle's teammates Mark Martin and Carl Edwards in the crash as inside ten laps half of the Hendrick team and three-fifths of the Roush squad had suffered damage that put paid to their chances.

It wasn't all bad news for NASCAR's two 'uber-teams' as Hendrick's Kyle Busch followed Stewart passed Said to take second place with the help of his elder brother Kurt, who overcame a battery change to take third. Said held on to a fantastic fourth place despite running most of the race outside the top 30 while Elliott Sadler overcame a pit road collision with Biffle and Martin Truex Jr to take fifth spot.



Related Pictures

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Tony Stewart - Home Depot/Joe Gibbs Chevrolet    [pic credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images]
NASCAR Nextel Cup Series #5 Kellogg`s Chevrolet driver Kyle Busch at Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, FL-2/20/05 ©Dorsey Patrick
Kurt Busch with Penske Racing crew-chief Roy McCauley at Daytona. [Pic Credit Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images]
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualified for twelfth position Friday, August 29, 2014 for Sunday`s Nascar Sprint Cup race at Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia. After a three-race absence, Tony Stewart has returned to the track at Atlanta. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart at Dover International Speedway on May 30 2014. (Photo Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR Media)
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The Richard Childress Racing #3 Chevrolet Nationwide Series car driven by Ty Dillon. (Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS, qualified sixth fastest Saturday, July 26, 2014 for Sunday`s Brickyard 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Rusty Jarrett/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart presents Darrell Wallace Jr. , driver of the #54 ToyotaCare Toyota, with the trophy after winning the Camping World Truck 2nd Annual 1-800 Car Cash Mudsummer Classic at Eldora Speedway on July 23, 2014 in Rossburg, Ohio.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/NASCAR via Getty Images)
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Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 United States Air Force Ford, walks through the garage area prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/NASCARA via Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., driver of the #88 National Guard Chevrolet, lead a group of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Patriotic Chevrolet, climbs from his car after being involved in an on track incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kyle Larson, driver of the #42 Target Chevrolet, is involved in an incident during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A large incident occurs in turn three during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Daniel Shirey/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola, driver of the #43 United States Air Force Ford, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Coke Zero 400 after the race was called for weather at Daytona International Speedway on July 6, 2014 in Daytona Beach, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/NASCAR via Getty Images)

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