DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tony Stewart’s quest for a Daytona 500 victory will last at least another year.
The three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion saw his hopes for his first Daytona 500 win end early when his car shot up the track, hit Ryan Blaney’s car and slapped the wall to bring out the caution on Lap 42.
“Just my fault, I let it get away from me,’’ Stewart said in the Daytona International Speedway garage after exiting the race. “We were fine as long as we were two-wide, and then when it got three-wide that particular lap, it got away from me. I got out of the gas and couldn’t even get the front end caught up. I’m not sure if Ryan wasn’t there that I still wasn’t going to hit the fence.’’
While Stewart’s team made repairs, he eventually dropped out to finish 42nd in the 43-car field. He completed 72 laps. It marked the third consecutive year he’s placed 35th or worse in this race.
“It was fast enough stay with the pack there,’’ Stewart said. “I actually stayed with Mike Wallace to help my buddy out. We ran as many laps as we could. We couldn’t run any more laps and gain anything. The biggest race of the year, the last thing you want to do is stay out there and have something else happen and get in the middle of something else.’’
Asked about the frustration of not winning this race, Stewart said: “Just part of it. It’s not what we had planned. We stuck with the plan from the start of the race and that was to stay up front as much as we could. We knew the first two runs of the race we were probably going to have to adjust to the car. I just didn’t make it far enough to the second run to adjust it there.’’