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. -- Tony Stewart has had plenty of chances to win the Daytona 500, and hes had his heart broken every time. Stewart wound up on his roof in 2001, and his engine blew in the opening laps of the 2002 race. He finished second to Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 2004, and wrecked while leading in 2007. The most difficult defeat was likely 2008, when Ryan Newman was pushed past Stewart on the last lap to snatch away the victory. Last year, Stewart was second on the final restart but faded to a 13th-place finish as rookie Trevor Bayne pulled off the upset. The race is such a crapshoot that one of the Daytona 500 rookies, Danica Patrick, has said she believes shes got as good a chance to win the race as anyone. "I felt comfortable. I feel more than ready for Sunday," said Patrick, who walked away from a violent crash in Thursdays qualifying race. Her car is owned by Stewart, the defending NASCAR champion who goes into Sundays season-opening Daytona 500 with a disappointing 0-for-13 record in "The Great American Race." Stewart has been reminded every day since arriving in Daytona about his inability to win the big race here. "Its not a good feeling to not have that tally in the win column," Stewart said. "Everything else we have pretty much accomplished in this sport that we want to accomplish. Its the biggest race of the year. Everyone wants to win that race. I wont say that it is not a complete career if you dont win it, but there is a lot of priority on this." He has a tremendous opportunity once again. Stewart, who closed last season with five victories in the final 10 races to win his third NASCAR title, has given no indication hes slowed down one bit during over the off-season. He lost the exhibition Budweiser Shootout last week when Kyle Busch passed him at the finish line, but rallied to dominate his qualifying race on Thursday. The victory in the 150-mile race gave Stewart the third starting spot in the Daytona 500. And unlike years past, when hes hung around the back of the pack and waited to make his move, hes given every indication he wants to race hard Sunday. His performance during SpeedWeeks, he believes, has made him the driver everyone should want to work with on the race track. "I want those guys to see that weve got strength," he said. "I think its an advantage to do that at this point of the game, showing that guys around you are going to hopefully want to be around you, and know that youve got a car that can stay up there, so they want to stay with you." The irony is that Stewart has always been one of the strongest drivers at Daytona. His 17 victories at the track rank second only to the 34 tallied by the late Dale Earnhardt. But like Earnhardt, its the big race thats eluded Stewart. It took Earnhardt 20 tries to win the Daytona 500. Hall of Famer Darrell Waltrip needed 17 attempts to win the Daytona 500. Mark Martin has never won this race. Neither have former NASCAR champions Terry Labonte, Bobby Labonte or Kurt Busch, a three-time runner-up and the guy who pushed Newman past Stewart in 2008. "Its the race that can define a drivers career," Busch said. "Its a priority because of the prestigious value and what it can do long-term and the immediate impact. Like the Super Bowl, this race is our spectacle." Stewart, meanwhile, has six top-10s in his 13 starts. But hes the only driver in NASCAR history with three or more championships who has never won the Daytona 500. "I wouldnt trade three championships to win Daytona," said Stewart, who was also winless in his five Indianapolis 500 attempts. "Weve been leading late in these races, and so I feel like the law of averages, were going to get one eventually. There have been a lot of them that have slipped away and slipped through our fingers. But weve had good luck here; we just havent had that good luck during the 500 yet. So well just keep digging." Problem is, he may end up at the mercy of others as the style of racing at Daytona has shifted back to the pack that fans preferred. Racing at restrictor-plate tracks the last few years had morphed into a two-car tandem style as drivers hooked up with a partner and took turns pushing each other around the track. NASCAR said a survey of fans showed that more than 80 per cent "hated" the practice, and series officials worked hard during the off-season to develop a rules package that would return the racing to the three-wide packs. NASCAR also banned driver-to-driver communications, which pole-sitter Carl Edwards wants re-instated. "I still think that NASCAR ought to allow us to talk between cars. I still think that is safer," Edwards said. "I dont think it gives you any competitive advantage and it is just safer. If we are going to run in a pack, if they do get this thing worked out so we cant really push, then the spotters are going to be invaluable. "You really need the spotter to help you to make sure that you are clear, especially toward the end of these races. It is just amazing the chaos out there and you are trying to figure out which line is moving and as a driver you look up and think you are clear but at the same time you are listening and I have to hear it from my spotter because you cant always see what is out there." The Shootout was marred by three multi-car wrecks, and there was a five-car accident in the first of Thursdays qualifying races. The second qualifying race, won by Matt Kenseth, was caution-free. But Paul Menard, who was involved in accidents Saturday and Thursday, openly criticized the way the pack racing has developed over SpeedWeeks. "We tore up two really good race cars not of our doing, and theyre going to tear up a hell of a lot more," he said. "Im concerned were not going to finish. It is going to make for us, I think, riding around in the back, and trying to be there at the end. Wait for everybody else to wreck." Ben Roethlisberger Jersey
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. A sweat-soaked Adam van Koeverden slices through the water in his kayak. Boxer Mary Spencer heaves a medicine ball methodically against a wall.KHARKIV, Ukraine -- Serena Williams defeated Lesia Tsurenko 6-3, 6-2 on Sunday to send the United States back into the Fed Cup World Group by clinching a series victory over Ukraine. Williams victory gave the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead and Christina McHale then won 7-5, 6-3 against 17-year-old Ukrainian Elina Svitolina to secure a sweep of the singles matches. Americans Liezel Huber and Sloane Stephens completed a 5-0 rout with a 6-4, 6-1 win over 19-year-old twins Lyudmyla and Nadiya Kichenok in doubles. Williams was making her first Fed Cup appearance on foreign soil in more than a decade to help gain eligibility for the U.S. team at the London Olympics. "Were back in the World Group where we want to be and it feels really good to get two points," she said after the match. Tsurenko frustrated Williams early on with accurate hitting from the baseline on the red clay court. "Whats your problem?" Williams roared at herself after hitting two consecutive aces to prevent a break in the sixth game. The 22-year-old Ukrainian pressured Williams serve after giving up a break, but couldnt convert two break points. Darrius Heyward-Bey Jersey
. Williams broke again to take the set. "She has a good game. She has a lot of power," Williams said of her opponent. Williams became more relaxed as the match progressed, breaking twice early in the second set. "I had a little bit of a slow start, but I just knew that I could keep fighting," she said. "I just want to go out there and be super relaxed. I play better when Im relaxed." Tsurenko broke Williams to prevent her from serving out the match at 5-1, but the powerful returning of the 13-time Grand Slam champion helped her break for a third time in the set and clinch the win. "It was hard as she was playing freely and with great confidence," Tsurenko said. McHales match with Svitolina was tighter. The 19-year-old American broke once to take a close first set, but breezed through the second, breaking her younger opponents serve twice. ' ' '