Will Tony Stewart win a Daytona 500 in less time than it took Dale Earnhardt? It's becoming less and less certain every year.
Sunday evening was Stewart's 16th 500, and after his car's engine started sputtering, it soon became his 16th winless Daytona 500.
Not long after the 500 resumed after a rain delay of over six hours, Stewart reported to his crew that his fuel gauge was bouncing all over the place and that his car's engine was missing off of the exit of the turns and trioval. The maladies were causing him to lose speed, and he quickly drifted from the pack.
On his first trip down pit road, his team cycled the ignition switches while they refuled the car, hoping it'd do the trick. No dice. Stewart soon reported the same issue and was headed back to the garage, where the team furiously repaired the fuel intake. He finished 35th, 26 laps down.
Earnhardt went 18 races before winning his only Daytona 500 in 1998, so it doesn't take a math degree to figure out that Stewart would tie him with two more winless races. Will it happen? Well, it's possible. Much like Earnhardt, Stewart enters Speedweeks as one of the favorites for the Harley J. Earl trophy. And like Earnhardt before 1998, every year, Stewart leaves without a win. When is Stewart's 1998?
His other three drivers at Stewart-Haas Racing also had a rough Daytona 500.
Danica Patrick finished 40th after a lap 145 crash and Kurt Busch was livid after he spun towards pit road with 10 laps to go. Busch made an incredible save to keep the car off the wall, but it might have been to his detriment. As his car was stopped with its rear wheels lodged between pit road and the infield, NASCAR declined to throw a caution as the field was already hurtling towards turn one and Busch's car didn't have any damage.
Busch was able to get the car refired, but to no one's surprise, he was livid at the decision to not throw the caution and dropped many an expletive. He ended up 21st.
Kevin Harvick was the highest finishing Stewart-Haas car in 13th, but he ended his 500 sliding across the track in a wrecked race car. Through turns three and four on the final lap, Harvick was in the middle of a three-wide situation and got loose, slamming into Jamie McMurray. That set off a chain reaction accident that collected Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards and others.
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