Stewart Banking On Momentum

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - So far everything has been going right for Tony Stewart in 2007.

Last month, Stewart won the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals and announced that Chevrolet would back his open-wheel teams for the first time. He followed that up by winning his third Budweiser Shootout and winning the first race in the Gatorade Duel At Daytona to secure the third starting spot in the 49th running of the Daytona 500. Not to mention his good friend Peyton Manning (Indianapolis Colts quarterback) won his first Super Bowl.

With the early success, Stewart hopes to get his first victory in NASCAR’s version of the Super Bowl, the Daytona 500.

"A lot of things have lined up to make us feel really good coming in here this year," Stewart said. "It’s kind of one of those things where I’m superstitious about everything and it’s one of those things where this falls in line. I feel like maybe we’ll have the opportunity to get there."

While Stewart was out racing in the Chili Bowl, Mike McLaughlin tested the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolets during Jackson Hewitt Preseason Thunder at Daytona. Following the test, Stewart’s crew chief Greg Zipadelli came back with good news.

"Zippy said that, with these cars, we might have the best shot at winning the Daytona 500," Stewart said. "When your crew chief goes out on a limb and says that, it gives you confidence as a driver that maybe this is going to be the best shot that you have."

The car (chassis No. 70) Stewart will be driving in Sunday’s race is the same one that delivered back-to-back Pepsi 400 victories at Daytona in 2005 and 2006. With the late start time for the Daytona 500, Stewart will look to continue the magic under the lights at the 2.5-mile superspeedway.

"I hope we've got one more in us," Stewart said. "There's a lot that can happen, but this is the best opportunity we've had so far to win the 500 and the most momentum we've had going into 500."

Although Stewart went on to win the 2002 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series championship after a 43rd-place finish in the Daytona 500, a good run in this year’s main event could be critical this season with the new Car of Tomorrow coming into effect this season.

"I think whoever can stumble on the combination and figure out the Car of Tomorrow first is probably the team that’s the leading candidate to win the championship this year," Stewart said.

But, for now, the Car of Tomorrow can wait. Starting the year with a Daytona 500 victory is the most important thing in Stewart’s life.

"There’s not a driver in that garage that doesn’t want to win this race," Stewart said. "And, there may not be one that wants to win it as bad as I do."

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