Stewart battles rain to win Pepsi 400 at Daytona

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Sunday, July 3, 2005

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Veteran NASCAR Nextel Cup driver Tony Stewart dominated the Pepsi 400 night race at Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida early Sunday morning, winning his first ever race at a restrictor plate track.

A rain delay halted the cars from hitting the track until around 0230 UTC time Sunday, with United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as the grand marshal. Green flag racing started around lap 10, with Stewart on the pole position.

Lap 34 gave way to the first caution of the night when the #6 car, driven by Mark Martin, swerved to attempt to avoid an accident. The car first skimmed the side of the barrier coming off Turn 4, then later raced into lower ground, causing a multi-car pileup and sending the race into a caution.

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The next caution came at lap 64, when a small piece of debris was cleaned up on the track. Just four laps later, Kyle Petty in the #45 car blew a tire and sent the race into another caution. On the next green lap another four laps later, Michael Waltrip and the #15 car lost an engine. On the same lap, 2003 Pepsi 400 winner Greg Biffle in the #16 car lost a tire. Another caution was issued.

On Lap 145, another multi-car crash happened off turn four, heading to the start/finish line. The race was finally restarted at lap 151, with Stewart leading all remaining laps.

Instead of usually celebrating on the infield between pit lane and the track, Stewart chose to climb a flag pole near the start/finish line to celebrate his victory. Fireworks, a tradition of the Pepsi 400, sounded at the end of the race and continued for more than 20 minutes after the race's finish.

Unofficial Top-10 Results of the Pepsi 400
Position Car # Driver
1 20 Tony Stewart
2 42 Jamie McMurray
3 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4 2 Rusty Wallace
5 88 Dale Jarrett
6 48 Jimmy Johnson
7 24 Jeff Gordon
8 4 Mike Wallace
9 17 Matt Kenseth
10 49 Ken Schrader
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