By admin | January 3, 2010
By Richard Allen
Tony Stewart has never been known as an early season front runner. Aside from a win in Atlanta in 2002 he has scarcely visited victory lane in the first third of any season. So, needless to say, he has never won the season opening Daytona 500.
Typically, Stewart does his best when the heat of summer causes tracks to turn slippery and he can put to full use his extensive dirt track skills.
This year, his frustration in NASCARâ€™s biggest race will come to an end.
Stewart, perhaps more than any other driver, has a deep appreciation for the history of racing which is why he seems even more frustrated than most at his inability to win the sportâ€™s major event.
However, after his decision just over a year ago to leave Joe Gibbs Racing and put himself in a position to utilize the best equipment in NASCAR by joining his Stewart-Haas Racing team with Hendrick Motorsports, he will have all he needs to win.
Last year, Stewart was strong in each of the restrictor plate races, but particularly those held in Daytona. He was involved in accidents which kept him from victory in Talladega. In his first ever run for SHR he managed an 8th place result in the 2009 Daytona 500. After a last lap tangle with Kyle Busch, Stewart won the July race at the â€˜World Center of Racingâ€™. In that race he led a commanding 86 laps.
After putting a full year under his belt with his new team, Stewart should be poised to put together a great season in 2010. As a matter of fact, if anyone is to challenge Jimmie Johnsonâ€™s tightly held grip on the Sprint Cup trophy it may well be Stewart.
I predict that he will get his season off to a great start in 2010 by winning the Daytona 500 for the first time in his career.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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