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Tony Stewart Rules Bud Shootout
By Jan Bazen, TCGOB Staff
Tony Stewart, in the #20 Home Depot Pontiac, defended his reign in the season-opening NASCAR Bud Shootout non-points event held at Daytona Motor Speedway in Florida. Winning the race for the second straight year, Stewart proved that he will be a force to contend with in 2002. Stewart joins the ranks of drivers like Ken Schrader, Jeff Gordon, Dale Jarrett, and the late Neil Bonnett by winning the Shootout more than once. Only the late Dale Earnhardt has rolled to victory at the Shootout more than twice, winning the event a record six times.
Although there were six lead changes during the race, Stewart was the dominating driver and led the most laps. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Jeff Gordon, in the #8 and #24 Chevrolet Monte Carlos, finished 2nd and 3rd in an exciting, near photo finish, trading paint in a mad dash for position in the closing laps. Ken Schrader finished fourth in his #36 M&Ms Pontiac and Sterlin Marlin fifth in his #40 Coors Dodge. The first Ford finisher, the #88 UPS driven by Dale Jarrett, came in sixth place and was not much of a threat during the race.
Jeff Gordon had the most ground to gain while starting in the 22nd position and made steady progress throughout the race, finishing third. Ricky Rudd, in the #28 Texaco Ford Taurus, had the most disappointing start when his transmission jammed on the first lap. Using only first gear, he circled the track and returned to the garage for repairs, ending up three laps down before re-joining the race. Casey Atwood, in the #19 Dodge, was sidelined by engine problems and was the only driver that did not complete the race.
Stewart, whose average speed during the race was 181.295, won $200,955 in the Shootout. Stewart is only the third driver to win the Bud Shootout in back to back years. The late Neil Bonnett won in 1983 and 1984 while Ken Schrader won in 1989 and 1990. Another interesting piece of trivia is that 19 of the last 22 Bud Shootout winners went on to win the Winston Cup Championship. Stewart has already made it clear that he intends to be a factor in this years point race. It seems he is getting off to a great start.
Jan is an RN who lives on the North Carolina coast with her husband, three children and her dog. When not watching or reading about Nascar, she enjoys fishing...any kind of fishing. She enjoys gardening and reading. Although Jan is new to the sport of Nascar, she was exposed to Nascar from the early, tender age of 5 by her older brother, Fred, who has always been a diehard Nascar fan. Jan welcomes any comments or opposing views. You can contact her by clicking on the North Carolina tag above.
2002 Car Guy of Benchfield