Stewart proves that riding around at the back of the pack is the best strategy at Daytona

  • Article by: JENNA FRYER , AP Auto Racing Writer
  • Updated: July 9, 2013 - 7:25 AM
hide

Tony Stewart

Photo: Brian Czobat, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Tony Stewart coasted for at least 250 miles at Daytona International Speedway, where he hardly worked up a sweat until the final hour of the race.

It's a game he hates to play, dropping to the back of the pack at restrictor-plate races to casually circle the track lap after lap. The strategy of waiting until the end of the race to make a frantic, final push goes against his fundamentals of racing.

But he couldn't deny the results Saturday night when he found himself in position to challenge Jimmie Johnson for the win. Although he ultimately settled for second, the finish pushed him a whopping six places to 10th in points in the Sprint Cup standings.

"This is a 195 mph chess match, and the lap that pays is lap 160," Stewart said. "A lot is said about guys that lag back like that, but we're in the most competitive series in the country, and when you're running in the most competitive series in the country you have to do what you think is in the best interest of you, your car, your team and your situation to get to the end.

"Part of winning races is knowing to be where at what times. I know some people don't like that and some people don't agree with it, but that's what I think is the best thing to do in the interest of our race team and to ensure at the end of the day when it's time to go we have a car that's capable of doing so."

Stewart has used that strategy for years at Daytona and Talladega, the two tracks that NASCAR requires the use of horsepower-sapping restrictor plates. The plates control speeds and keep the cars bunched, raising the likelihood of a multicar crash when a driver makes a mistake.

Now more and more drivers are simply riding around for the three quarters, choosing to wait until the end to turn it up a notch.

It was frustrating to fourth-place finisher Clint Bowyer, who had voiced his boredom with Daytona several times over the weekend.

"I made a rule with myself at these restrictor-plate tracks to be easy. You know, ride around," Bowyer said. "It's boring. You want to be up there racing for every lap led. If you get wiped out it doesn't matter who caused it or whose fault it was. If you get wiped out before halfway in one of these restrictor-plate races it's your own fault. You knew better than to put yourself in that situation."

The final results Saturday showed that riding in the back is the best strategy for making it to the finish line.

Johnson, who had the dominant car, led a race-high 94 laps and felt confident his speed was enough to keep him out front and ahead of trouble. But Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Bowyer and Michael Waltrip all made it inside the top-five but laying back for at least half the race. David Ragan did the same thing to win at Talladega in May.

But Stewart is correct in sensing that many fans don't like watching drivers take it easy. They gripe and grumble that there's no point in watching a plate race until the very end because that's when it gets exciting.

So what does NASCAR do about this predicament? Series officials can't force drivers to race hard, and there doesn't seem to be any real consequence to laying back. Several years ago when Denny Hamlin was in the thick of the championship race, he lost a tandem partner while racing at the back and fell out of the draft. In danger of going a lap down and ruining his title chances, fellow Toyota driver Waltrip got out of the gas and slid back to rescue Hamlin.

And NASCAR can't take the plates off unless it figures a way to slow the cars, which nobody has been able to do at the two biggest and fastest tracks in the series.

But as Bowyer grumbled about how much idle time he spent at Daytona, where drivers run just a few laps of practice to tune their cars, then turn one lap on qualifying day, then sit and wait for the race to take it easy until the end, it became apparent the whole system is broken.

NASCAR will never cut races from 500 or 400 miles to a 25-lap shootout, but that's basically what they've become. Everybody sat around and waited three days to watch the final 25 laps of Saturday night's race.

At minimum, NASCAR should cut the plate events, excluding the Daytona 500, down to two-day shows for the Sprint Cup Series. No team is using all its practice time, making it pointless for everyone to be at the track all those hours.

As for the race itself? Who knows? There's no incentive to race early, and there's not much NASCAR can do to change that. For now, we know what we're going to watch four times a year. We'll sit and watch for some wrecks, then wait for it to get crazy at the end.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Atlanta
Tennessee 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Detroit 11/23/14 12:00 PM
New England
Green Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Jacksonville 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Cincinnati 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Tampa Bay 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Arizona 11/23/14 3:05 PM
Seattle
St. Louis 11/23/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Miami 11/23/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Washington 11/23/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
Dallas 11/23/14 7:30 PM
NY Giants
NY Jets 11/24/14 6:00 PM
Buffalo
Baltimore 11/24/14 7:30 PM
New Orleans
Chicago 11/27/14 11:30 AM
Detroit
Philadelphia 11/27/14 3:30 PM
Dallas
Seattle 11/27/14 7:30 PM
San Francisco
Phoenix 6:00 PM
Indiana
Miami 6:00 PM
Orlando
Philadelphia 6:30 PM
New York
Toronto 6:30 PM
Cleveland
Dallas 7:00 PM
Houston
Sacramento 7:00 PM
Minnesota
Brooklyn 7:30 PM
San Antonio
Washington 7:30 PM
Milwaukee
New Orleans 8:00 PM
Utah
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Ottawa 2
Montreal 6:00 PM
Boston
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Minnesota 6:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Pittsburgh 6:00 PM
NY Islanders
Columbus 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Buffalo 6:00 PM
Washington
Florida 7:00 PM
Nashville
Los Angeles 7:00 PM
Dallas
Carolina 8:00 PM
Colorado
New Jersey 9:00 PM
Calgary
Chicago 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Arizona 9:30 PM
San Jose
Incarnate Word 79 FINAL
Princeton 68
Robert Morris 66 FINAL
Georgetown 80
Notre Dame 81 FINAL
Massachusetts 68
Saint Peters 50 FINAL
La Salle 59
Ball State 69 FINAL
IUPUI 71
Utah State 63 FINAL
Miss State 71
High Point 56 FINAL
Richmond 80
Appalachian St 65 FINAL
Virginia Tech 63
Drake 75 FINAL
Western Mich 91
Samford 72 FINAL
CS-Northridge 79
Colgate 53 FINAL
Campbell 48
North Carolina 90 FINAL
Davidson 72
North Florida 49 FINAL
Northern Iowa 66
UMass Lowell 63 FINAL
NJIT 61
Nebraska Omaha 97 FINAL
Marquette 89
Clemson 59 FINAL
Nevada 50
Florida State 54 FINAL
Providence 80
South Alabama 53 FINAL
Detroit 66
Texas State 67 FINAL
TX-San Antonio 80
Trinity Christian 52 FINAL
Chicago State 75
Liberty 52 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 63
Western State 60 FINAL
Air Force 90
Elon 67 FINAL
Northwestern 68
Canisius 53 FINAL
St Bonaventure 59
MD-Eastern Shore 53 FINAL
St Francis-PA 57
Cleveland State 83 FINAL
Savannah State 87
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Central Arkansas 68
UMKC 63 2nd Half 0:48
Ark-Little Rock 69
Southern U 48 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 66
Longwood 72 FINAL
Youngstown St 82
Towson 53 2nd Half 6:05
Bethune-Cookman 37
Loyola-Maryland 36 2nd Half 6:19
Butler 73
San Jose St 50 2nd Half 4:00
Cal State Fullerton 60
Texas Southern 50 2nd Half 11:33
Norfolk State 56
Yale 46 2nd Half 7:20
Southern Ill 38
LSU 66 2nd Half 4:06
Weber State 55
South Dakota 54 2nd Half 2:28
Wofford 69
Duquesne 66 2nd Half 10:34
Abilene Christian 54
Wright State 42 2nd Half
Char Southern 35
Miles 46 2nd Half 16:51
Jacksonville St 43
Binghamton 27 2nd Half
Manhattan 43
Alcorn State 29 2nd Half
Kennesaw St 44
Bob Jones Univ 19 1st Half 7:07
Citadel 25
Piedmont Coll 10 1st Half 6:06
Coastal Carolina 20
Johnson University 6 1st Half 16:28
Ga Southern 6
Brown 23 1st Half 4:15
Indiana State 28
Colorado 22 1st Half 3:08
Wyoming 19
Quinnipiac 6:00 PM
Albany
Mount St Marys 6:00 PM
Bucknell
Master's College 6:00 PM
UC Santa Barbara
UNC-Asheville 6:00 PM
East Tenn St
Clermont College 6:00 PM
Eastern Ky
UNC Greensboro 6:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Sam Houston St 6:00 PM
Fairfield
American Univ 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Army 6:00 PM
Marist
Hartford 6:00 PM
Niagara
Lafayette 6:00 PM
Penn
Nebraska 6:00 PM
Rhode Island
Vermont 6:00 PM
Saint Josephs
Eastern Wash 6:00 PM
SMU
UNLV 6:00 PM
Temple
Chattanooga 6:00 PM
Tenn Tech
UNC-Wilmington 6:00 PM
Va Military
Ohio Midwestern 6:00 PM
Northern Ky
UC Davis 6:30 PM
Furman
Ill-Chicago 6:30 PM
Kent State
Transylvania 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Central Conn St 6:30 PM
Monmouth
Oakwood 7:00 PM
Alabama A&M
Morgan State 7:00 PM
Houston
Lamar 7:00 PM
Indiana
Northeastern 7:00 PM
Navy
William & Mary 7:00 PM
Rice
Missouri State 7:00 PM
Texas Tech
TX A&M-Kingsville 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Southern-New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulane
SE Louisiana 7:00 PM
Western Ill
Belmont 7:00 PM
Western Ky
Hampton 7:00 PM
North Dakota St
UMBC 7:30 PM
Minnesota
Houston Baptist 7:30 PM
Texas-Arlington
St Thomas Aquinas 8:00 PM
Gonzaga
Utah Valley U 8:00 PM
Southern Utah
New Mexico St 8:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Stanford 8:30 PM
Duke
Morehead State 8:30 PM
Presbyterian
SIU Edwardsville 9:00 PM
Portland
Boise State 9:00 PM
Wisconsin
Valparaiso 11/23/14 8:30 AM
Maine
Kent State 0 Cancelled
Buffalo 0
Texas-El Paso 13 FINAL
Rice 31
Air Force 14 FINAL
San Diego St 30
San Jose St 7 FINAL
Utah State 41
Char Southern 9 FINAL
(9) Georgia 55
South Alabama 12 FINAL
So Carolina 37
Rutgers 3 FINAL
(10) Michigan State 45
Minnesota 28 FINAL
(21) Nebraska 24
Northwestern 38 FINAL
Purdue 14
(18) Marshall 23 FINAL
UAB 18
Kansas 7 FINAL
(23) Oklahoma 44
Indiana 27 FINAL
(7) Ohio State 42
Penn State 14 FINAL
Illinois 16
(14) Eastern Ky 3 FINAL
Florida 52
TX-San Antonio 7 FINAL
Western Ky 45
SMU 7 FINAL
UCF 53
Tulsa 28 FINAL
Houston 38
Virginia Tech 3 FINAL
Wake Forest 6
Washington St 31 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 52
Louisiana Tech 27 FINAL
Old Dominion 30
Western Mich 32 FINAL
Central Mich 20
New Mexico 20 FINAL
(22) Colorado State 58
Eastern Mich 30 FINAL
Ball State 45
Appalachian St 35 FINAL
Louisiana 16
(15) Arizona 42 4th Qtr 1:51
(20) Utah 10
FIU 14 FINAL
North Texas 17
(8) Ole Miss 0 4th Qtr 13:35
Arkansas 27
Louisville 31 4th Qtr 9:10
Notre Dame 28
Maryland 23 4th Qtr 5:59
Michigan 16
Texas Tech 27 4th Qtr 5:59
Iowa State 31
(14) Wisconsin 26 4th Qtr 5:01
Iowa 24
Syracuse 7 4th Qtr 2:35
Pittsburgh 30
Boston College 17 FINAL
(1) Florida State 20
Georgia State 0 4th Qtr 0:29
Clemson 28
Tulane 6 4th Qtr 7:07
East Carolina 27
Stanford 31 3rd Qtr 2:58
California 7
Western Carolina 14 3rd Qtr 6:35
(2) Alabama 41
ULM 27 3rd Qtr 0:41
New Mexico St 17
So Florida 13 4th Qtr
Memphis 28
Colorado 3 3rd Qtr 7:22
(3) Oregon 30
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
Middle Tennessee
Samford 6:00 PM
(16) Auburn
Miami-Florida 6:00 PM
Virginia
Vanderbilt 6:30 PM
(4) Miss State
(19) Missouri 6:30 PM
Tennessee
Oklahoma State 6:30 PM
(6) Baylor
(24) USC 7:00 PM
(11) UCLA
Cincinnati 7:00 PM
Connecticut
Boise State 9:15 PM
Wyoming
Oregon State 9:30 PM
Washington
Fresno State 9:30 PM
Nevada
UNLV 10:00 PM
Hawaii
Ohio U 11/25/14 6:00 PM
Miami-Ohio
LSU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas A&M
(5) TCU 11/27/14 6:30 PM
Texas
Northern Ill 11/28/14 10:00 AM
Western Mich
(21) Nebraska 11/28/14 11:00 AM
Iowa
Western Ky 11/28/14 11:00 AM
(18) Marshall
UCF 11/28/14 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11/28/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Akron 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Massachusetts
Toledo 11/28/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 11/28/14 1:30 PM
(19) Missouri
Navy 11/28/14 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(15) Arizona
Stanford 11/28/14 2:30 PM
(11) UCLA
(22) Colorado State 11/28/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 11/28/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 11/28/14 7:30 PM
Tulsa
BYU 11/29/14 2:00 AM
California
(20) Utah 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Colorado
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Oregon State
Kentucky 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Louisville
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(24) USC
So Carolina 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Clemson
Florida 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(1) Florida State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 2:00 AM
(25) Duke
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 2:00 AM
Miami-Florida
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(17) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(9) Georgia
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Indiana
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Northwestern
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Temple
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Troy
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(8) Ole Miss
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(6) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Maryland
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Vanderbilt
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(12) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Memphis
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
(16) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UNLV
Montreal 11/23/14 12:00 PM
Hamilton
Edmonton 11/23/14 3:30 PM
Calgary
TBA 11/30/14 5:00 PM
TBA
Grand Canyon 77 FINAL
Austin Peay 84
Bowling Green 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 50
St Bonaventure 68 FINAL
Detroit 56
Illinois-Chicago 72 FINAL
Miami-Ohio 69
Louisiana Tech 55 FINAL
Louisiana 58
MD-Eastern Shore 57 FINAL
Marshall 74
Butler 77 FINAL
Fairfield 81
Central Conn St 81 FINAL
UMass Lowell 58
Bucknell 61 FINAL
Fairleigh Dickinson 60
St Marys-CA 57 FINAL
UC Davis 55
UNC-Asheville 53 FINAL
South Florida 97
Colgate 51 FINAL
Drexel 59
Niagara 64 FINAL
Buffalo 73
Vermont 61 FINAL
Boston U 66
Marist 51 FINAL
Northeastern 58
UNC-Wilmington 72 FINAL
Appalachian St 82
Duquesne 52 FINAL
Green Bay 84
Saint Josephs 75 FINAL
Liberty 76
Army 81 FINAL
Manhattan 49
Eastern Michigan 75 FINAL
TX-Pan American 81
Southern Ill 50 FINAL
Wright State 70
Youngstown St 70 FINAL
Radford 44
Stetson 62 FINAL
Indiana State 52
Rockhurst 65 FINAL
UMKC 60
Ark-Little Rock 55 FINAL
Rice 40
(23) Syracuse 77 FINAL
Jacksonville 61
NC Central 53 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 73
New Orleans 51 FINAL
Jacksonville St 65
(22) Rutgers 64 FINAL
LSU 57
Missouri State 36 FINAL
(21) Oklahoma St 77
Eastern Washington 53 FINAL
SMU 69
Houston Baptist 61 FINAL
Texas State 56
TX-Arlington 61 FINAL
Wichita State 71
(9) Maryland 75 FINAL
George Washington 65
Presbyterian 51 FINAL
Western Carolina 44
St Francis-NY 71 FINAL
Rider 60
Central Arkansas 56 FINAL
Jackson State 45
Kennesaw St 72 FINAL
Georgia Southern 51
Loyola-Chicago 45 FINAL
Northern Ky 38
Howard 64 FINAL
La Salle 65
San Jose St 69 2nd Half 10:39
Cal-Irvine 55
Tennessee St 44 2nd Half 8:42
Lipscomb 31
San Francisco 37 2nd Half 7:27
UC-Riverside 47
Temple 42 2nd Half 8:00
Kansas 62
San Diego 47 2nd Half 7:34
Idaho 47
Concordia (OR) 33 2nd Half 0:47
(20) Oregon State 92
Corban 61 2nd Half 6:26
Portland State 47
Charleston Southern 10 1st Half 4:03
Wofford 12
UT Martin 14 1st Half 7:00
Pepperdine 18
Eastern Kentucky 5 1st Half 14:04
Mercer 10
Weber State 3 1st Half 11:17
Utah Valley U 6
North Dakota 5:30 PM
Towson
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
Penn State
LSU-Shreveport 6:00 PM
Grambling
Brown 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Penn 6:00 PM
Navy
Xavier 6:00 PM
Binghamton
Georgetown 6:30 PM
Alabama
(13) Kentucky 7:00 PM
Central Michigan
Texas Southern 7:00 PM
TCU
South Dakota St 7:00 PM
(18) DePaul
Talladega 7:00 PM
Ark-Pine Bluff
Arkansas State 7:00 PM
Colorado
Alcorn State 7:00 PM
UAB
Tenn Tech 7:05 PM
Valparaiso
Dayton 7:30 PM
(19) Iowa
Nevada 8:30 PM
BYU
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close