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Tony Stewart very subdued in victory after Kyle Busch's hard last-lap crash

Best pit crew in NASCAR? Darian Grubb's bunch was flawless in pacing Tony Stewart to victory in the Daytona 400 (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   Joe Gibbs has had the hot iron at Daytona lately, and for a moment late in Saturday night's 400 it looked like Kyle Busch was going to add to Gibbs' streak here.
   Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin, teammates the last few years, along with Busch, were dominating the three-hour race, played out in front of a nice, if relatively modest crowd of about 120,000 at Daytona International Speedway. Then Busch, with a push from Hamlin, made a pass to the outside of Stewart for the lead as they headed toward the white flag.
   Busch then blocked his way through the final lap…..
   "It's a lot like Talladega -- The guy who is leading is at the mercy of the guy who's second," Hamlin said. "And Kyle was trying to do everything he could to hold that lead…and Tony's doing everything he can to try to win. 
    "You can't put blame on anybody. They see the checkered flag, they're both going for a win.
    "Instead of us going for the win, I felt like our best shot was to push Kyle.  We got him the lead…though it took us out of position and let Jimmie Johnson get around us.
    "We had a great night, our car was extremely strong.  I don't think I've ever had a car this strong on a superspeedway."

   The best crew chief in NASCAR? Move over, Chad Knaus; because Darian Grubb is getting this vote (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Busch himself left the track without comment, as has become his style lately. 
   So crew chief Steve Addington was once again left to explain things: "We went for it right there at the end. That's part of this.
    "This is a product of restrictor-plate racing with these cars. 
    "What are you going to say?  I can't say anything. I'm not pointing any fingers at Tony. He was trying to win, Kyle was trying to block him for the win…and we got turned around.
    "He was patient all night long, sat there and rode.  Jeff Dickerson (the team spotter) kept telling him to just click off laps. And we didn't have any power issues. 
    "We were just fine. 
    "We took care of tires all night long (after having tire issues during practice), and wanted to be there at the end, because we needed to have a good points day.
   "We were in position to go for the win, and he did, and we end up wrecked. 
    "What are you going to say?  It's part of this racing.  Everybody's done it before. 
     "I feel like this is what happens on the last lap coming to win the race. It's just unfortunate for us."

Now that's some tight racing! Tony Stewart (14), Denny Hamlin (11), Kyle Busch (18), and Jimmie Johnson (48), in a Chevy-Toyota shootout, just moments before the big crash (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

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