“If anybody looks at my career and says because I haven’t won a Daytona 500 that I didn’t have a good career, I’d want to say they really don’t know what they’re talking about.” – Tony Stewart
He has won a Sprint Cup Series Championship. He has won numerous races, including the Brickyard 400. But yet, there’s one thing missing on Tony Stewart’s resume – a Daytona 500 victory.
It hasn’t been due to not coming close, though, as Stewart has put himself in position over the years in his career. Two of the races that stand out in his mind is the year that Ryan Newman won, and the year Stewart wrecked while running up front with Kurt Busch.
“Kurt and I were the two best cars in that race all day, and that’s definitely one where I got a speeding penalty and had to go to the back and then had to free the car up to get through traffic, and then when I got to the front I was too loose,” he reflected. “That was probably our best shot. And then there was one when I think it was the first one that Dale Jr. won, and there were three of us there were two of us that had broken away from everybody at the end because of a pit stop, and Kurt was the lap car, and I just didn’t have any way to get momentum to go by.”
The heartbreak is losing is something that comes to mind for Stewart, as the devastation that he felt after coming so close when Newman won in 2008.
“I could have done something, but if I did that, I took a risk of wrecking the entire field to win the race,” Stewart commented. “I chose to not wreck everybody, and I don’t remember where we ended up, second or third or sixth or something like that, but we were leading until we got to the middle of the backstretch on the last lap.”
Despite getting up in age, Stewart doesn’t feel that he’s running out of chances and this will become the race that he can’t win. The only time that he feels the feeling will set in will be once he makes the decision to hang it up.
“Everybody has got a shot here, so it’s just a matter of we’ve been in that position,” he added. “We’ve been in that position before, so it’s not like we’ve never been in that position. At least that gives you confidence that you’ve got a shot.”
Stewart feels that this season he has as good a shot at everybody at winning the great race, looking to put the past two seasons behind him. While he admits that his leg isn’t 100 percent yet after breaking it two years ago in a sprint car incident, he felt fine in the car last year. He also feels that he is even in better shape this year.
“I’m pretty excited about it,” he commented. “I’m coming off of a bad year and a half, so definitely excited to get it all behind us and move forward.”