DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. - Tony Stewart made his way through the entire field Saturday night and won the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway.
When his time was disallowed after qualifying second on Friday, Stewart started 42nd Saturday. And after passing pole-winner Matt Kenseth on the backstretch of the final lap of the race, he won for the third time this season.
"I don't remember what happened on that last lap," said Stewart, last season's Sprint Cup champion. "It was just a weird day. Any time you win at Daytona, it's special."
Jeff Burton finished second and points-leader Kenseth was third as a multi-car wreck broke out behind the leaders as they crossed the finish line.
The early portions of the race belonged to Kenseth - the Daytona 500 champ from earlier this season - and Greg Biffle. Kenseth led until first first green-flag pit stops. Biffle took over after that, leading Kenseth and a tightly bunched field for 35 laps until Lap 82.
"It was disappointing," said Kenseth. "I think we had the best car and didn't win."
Before the race, NASCAR announced that AJ Allmendinger had been temporarily suspended for failing a random drug test last week at Kentucky. Sam Hornish Jr. replaced Allmendinger in the No. 22 Dodge, flying in from Charlotte and arriving at the track just moments before the race began.
That probably couldn't have happened if Daytona's airport was not directly next door to the speedway. Hornish's private plane landed at 7:31 p.m. - 17 minutes before the race was scheduled to start - and was still settling into the car on pit road when the rest of the field rolled onto the track. He joined the other cars after they had completed one warmup lap.
Hornish blew a tire on the backstretch on Lap 81, causing the race's first yellow flag.
While cars were pitting during the caution, Jeff Gordon and Ryan Newman touched along pit road. That pushed Newman into Kasey Kahne, which nudged Newman into Brad Keselowski, who was stopped in his pit. Keselowski's crew members and a NASCAR official alertly jumped out of the way and were unhurt. The Cup series moves on to Loudon, N.H., next week for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
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