Stewarts Road To Victory

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – In a race that saw heavy doses of bumping, banging and challenges for position from the drop of the green flag, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series’ Tony Stewart was able to hold off a late charge from Grand American Road Racing’s Max Papis to win the third race of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions XXX season.

Despite starting from the 11th position, Stewart dominated the majority of the race after taking over the top position on lap 3. From that point until the final restart with 5 laps to go, it appeared that the driver of the Orange No. 20 car would win easily.

It was on that final restart that Papis was able to get behind Stewart and challenge him until the finish.

"It was awesome," said Stewart, who won the race with a 0.560 second margin. "We just had to get smoother restarts. The hardest part - Max was the guy that could stay with us the whole race and with the way the cars drafted I thought I got through the infield fairly well and Max was really good with the draft there and played it really well. I kept trying to shake him and I was changing lines to try to break the draft and he wasn't missing any of the moves there. He pretty much knew where I was going before I went there.

"It was really hard to shake the draft but I think the last two laps we finally got a position where we got away a little bit and held him off there at the end and got some breathing room where we could open up our entries to the corner."

In tonight’s 119th race in IROC Series history, Stewart earned his fourth career victory – putting him in a tie for fifth in all-time IROC Series victories with Bobby Allison, Neil Bonnett, Rusty Wallace and Bobby Unser.

"You're talking about a pretty famous list of people there, so, trust me, there are other guys who will do that (tie for wins) in their careers and do more than that as far as race-wins, but I feel very fortunate to have won the ones that we have so far."

Unable to make a pass on Stewart, Papis settled for the runner up finish in the first road course IROC Series race in 14 years.

"I think there was a lot of beating and banging right from the word go," said Papis, who led the race’s first three laps. "I tried really hard, but I didn’t think I had the speed to beat Tony Stewart. He was coming out of the corner really good."

Despite having a few opportunities to “dump” Stewart and win the race, Papis wanted to race cleanly in hopes of victory.

"I had a chance to knock Tony off when he missed the chicane with 2 or 3 to go...but I want to win my first race fair and square," said Papis. "I always say, if you are going to win, it has to be your day. If you have to do strange things to win a race then it’s not your day."

NASCAR’s Ryan Newman, IRL IndyCar’s Scott Sharp and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top five finishers in the second road course IROC race in Daytona International Speedway’s history.

In one of the most entertaining moments of the race, Indy Racing League’s Hornish Jr. hit fellow series member Sharp as the field was going through Turns 1 and 2 on the 11th green flag lap of the race.

After being hit, Sharp slid backwards through the grass and actually hit Hornish - bringing out the second yellow flag of the event

Not all NASCAR drivers had as smooth a night as Stewart. Martin Truex Jr., who is representing the NASCAR Busch Series, suffered a problem on lap 14 and went straight into a tire barrier in the west horseshoe section of the track. He was able to drive out of the barrier and continue in the race, finishing the race in sixth position.

In total, there were four yellow flags in the race which ran 20-green flag laps around the 3.56 mile Daytona road course.

The Crown Royal IROC Series returns to action for its fourth and final race of the season on Saturday, October 28 when it travels to the 1.54-mile Atlanta Motor Speedway.

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