Reigning Nextel Cup Champion Tony Stewart has elected to miss this week's pre-season test at the Daytona International Speedway in order to focus on his annual appearance at the Chili Bowl Midget sprint car race.

After dominating the most recent Nextel Cup Series race at the 2.5-mile restrictor plate track, Stewart will hand over the controls of his #20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet to former Busch Series driver Mike McLaughlin for the duration of the three day test.

McLaughlin will take to the track for the first time on Thursday, as the first half of a two-part six-day test gets underway. Among the other drivers testing this week are former Cup Series champions Jeff Gordon, Bobby Labonte and Matt Kenseth and former Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Last July Stewart led all but a handful of laps in the Pepsi 400 during the midst of a run that led him to the 2005 title.



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