The payback was perfect. Tony Stewart turned the tables on Hendrick Motorsports to win the Nationwide Series opener.
Now, if only he can do it again today.
Stewart and teammate Kyle Busch finished 1-2 in Saturday's Camping World 300 at Daytona International Speedway, combining to hold off Dale Earnhardt Jr., who finished third.
The Joe Gibbs Racing teammates showed they have learned important lessons about cooperation from Hendrick, the team that fired Busch to make room for Earnhardt Jr.
"We worked with each other the whole race. That's something that, you know, we've learned that from (those) guys," Stewart said. "And it just shows if you get two of these guys to work with each other, Kyle and I can."
That will be tested in today's Daytona 500 and the expected showdown between Hendrick and Gibbs. It will be Stewart, Busch and Denny Hamlin, who won his Daytona qualifying race Thursday, against Hendrick's all-star cast of Earnhardt, two-time defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson, four-time Cup champ Jeff Gordon and Casey Mears.
"The Toyota has been fast," Earnhardt Jr. said. "Those guys, you know, got knowledge to get cars around the track, know how to get to Victory Lane. They're going to be tough, I think, all year."
Joe Gibbs Racing switched from Chevrolets to Toyotas over the winter.
Stewart and Busch put on a show Saturday, leading 93 of 120 laps. The last 20 laps were a wild, two- and three-wide melee. A nine-car crash on Lap 111 took out Cup stars Kasey Kahne and Kevin Harvick.
Brian Vickers, in another Toyota, took the lead from the two Gibbs cars with five laps to go, but Stewart shuffled back into the top spot on the next lap, with Earnhardt shooting out of the pack in close pursuit.
Busch moved back to second on Lap 119 with a push from Martin Truex, and Stewart, with his flank well-protected, raced to a three car-length victory.