- The Washington Times - Sunday, February 15, 2009

From combined dispatches

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. | It took Tony Stewart just five hours to go from brooding over his battered Daytona 500 car to celebrating a victory in the season-opening Nationwide Series race.

The two-time Sprint Cup champion held off a last-lap challenge from Kyle Busch to win the Camping World 300 on Saturday at Daytona International Speedway.

“After this morning, it’s great,” said Stewart, who lost his Daytona 500 car and teammate Ryan Newman’s to wrecks during morning practice. “This is a good way to rebound.”

Stewart passed 23 cars in 11 laps to get back into contention after pitting with 30 laps to go in the 120-lap race, then hung onto the lead as Busch, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer fought for position.

It was Stewart’s fourth Daytona victory. He also won the second-tier series’ season opener last year in another late-race battle with Busch.

Stewart gave up the third spot to pit during a caution on lap 91, falling far off the pace for the restart on lap 94. Driving a Chevrolet for longtime friend Rick Hendrick, he charged to the front, several times passing cars while sandwiched in the middle of three-wide battles.

Brad Keselowski led several times and appeared to be one of the cars to beat, but he banged off the wall on lap 108. Two laps later, his right rear tire blew, bringing out the last of six caution flags and setting up a dash to the finish.

Edwards led at that point, but Stewart, with help from Chevrolet driver Bowyer, moved into the lead after the restart on lap 114.

Busch, who won 10 Nationwide races last year, moved into second place three laps from the end.

On the final trip around the 2.5-mile oval, Busch moved up to Stewart’s rear bumper and gave him a nudge. Stewart’s car wobbled and drifted high as Busch’s Toyota moved nearly alongside. But somehow Stewart stayed just ahead of Busch. Then Edwards and defending series champion Bowyer went to the outside to pass Busch.

“Kyle got me really loose,” Stewart said. “If I’d spun or crashed, I would have to have it out with him on that one.

“The thing with these cars is you can’t get too far ahead. … He got to the bumper on the backstretch, pushed us all the way through [Turn] 3. … I don’t know how we came off the corner ahead of him.”

Get in the gaming

NASCAR and EA Sports have created a driving game for the immensely popular Wii.

NASCAR Kart Racing hit shelves earlier this week, and several drivers gave the Mario Kart-based game strong reviews.

“Awesome. It’s cool,” said Elliott Sadler, one of the biggest video gamers in the garage. “I was thoroughly impressed. It’s very fun. It’s very accurate.”

Sadler even thought his character was spot-on.

“I looked good,” he said.

The game features Sadler, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton, Edwards, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano racing in go-karts at 24 unique tracks.

“I love all the sling-shotting you can do,” Sadler said. “The most annoying thing is you can be racing against Kyle Busch and he can hit this button and throw up Kyle Busch billboards in front of your screen, almost like a smoke screen you can’t see through.

“It’s got some cool effects like that.”

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