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No Stewart needed to test Daytona-winning car
Chevrolet doesn't have a magic aero or engine package. From working at Richard Childress Racing, I know that RCR, Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing and Dale Earnhardt Inc. have put a lot of effort into their restrictor plate aero and engine programs. Daytona and Talladega are the two tracks where teams can get by without their regular driver during a test. No. 20 crew chief Greg Zipadelli had a proven car so Mike McLaughlin filled in for Tony Stewart. McLaughlin ran the same line and went through the gearbox, trying to improve the speed of the car. "It's 'Old Faithful,' a car we won here in July with last year and a top five in February," Zipadelli said. "We wrecked it at Talladega. It's a little better than it was last year." (Editor's note: Check out the career record of "Old Faithful" below.) Even though he's only competed in eight Daytona 500s, Stewart is getting to be a little bit like Dale Earnhardt at the World Center of Racing. Stewart has won races there in the Busch Series, IROC Series and Cup races in July, a Duel race, and the Budweiser Shootout. With two championships and a Brickyard win, the next racing goal on Stewart's radar is a Daytona 500 victory.
|Speed Mail Larry McReynolds|
With top-10 finishes in every Daytona race since 2004, the No. 20 team just has to go down there and do what they've been doing. Stewart's emotions kept him from winning the 500 last year. In 2005, he led over half the race. If his team gets the car driving well, and Stewart gets in the right position late in the race, he can go to Victory Lane Feb. 18 on FOX. It's a little over two months before the first Car of Tomorrow race at Bristol so no one's thinking about the COT at Daytona. They've got the Daytona 500, Talladega spring race and the Fourth of July race at Daytona. The first Car of Tomorrow restrictor plate race won't be run until Oct. 7 at Talladega. But guess where Zipadelli and Stewart are headed soon? Lakeland, Fla., to test a Car of Tomorrow.
|Tony Stewart's Chassis No. 70 ("Old Faithful") record|
|2006||Gatorade Duel (Daytona qualifier)||10||8||Running/64||15||$20,283|
|2005||Gatorade Duel (Daytona qualifier)||13||1||Running/60||12||$53,199|
|2004||Budweiser Shootout - Daytona||18||7||Running/70||0||$47,000|
FOX race analyst Larry McReynolds has more than 25 years of NASCAR experience as a mechanic, crew chief and broadcaster. He and his fellow Crew Chief Club members take you behind the wall at www.crewchiefclub.com.
"How to Become a Winning Crew Chief" is on bookstore shelves, or you may order your own autographed copy from www.DWStore.com.