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Stewart wins at Pocono

NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sunday, June 07, 2009

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Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after coming from the back of the field to win
John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
Perhaps more amazing than Tony Stewart’s first victory as an owner/driver was his victory celebration Sunday at Pocono Raceway.

Actually, what was amazing was that Stewart could even manage a celebration at all, after using every trick in the book — including shutting down his engine entering Turn 1 at the 2.5-mile triangular track — to save enough fuel to win the Pocono 500.

The win was Stewart’s 34th in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series and his first since acquiring an ownership interest in Stewart-Haas Racing before the 2009 season. This is the first Cup win by an owner/driver since Ricky Rudd won at Martinsville on Sept. 27, 1998.

“He’s doing a damn burnout!” Jeff Gordon’s crew chief, Steve Letarte, said in amazement after Stewart began his victory donuts on the frontstretch.

Holding down his speed to the minimum needed to stay ahead of runner-up Carl Edwards, who also was saving fuel, Stewart crossed the finish line 2.004 seconds ahead of the No. 99 Ford. David Reutimann ran third, followed by Gordon, who benefitted from a fuel-mileage play by Letarte, and Ryan Newman.

Stewart, who increased his lead in the Cup standings to 71 points over Gordon, lost more than four seconds of a 6.8-second lead over Edwards in the final 10 laps.

“Breathe easy, boys, we’re gonna make it,” Stewart radioed to his crew as he rolled through the final corner. “God, I’m proud of you guys. You make me look like a genius in here.”

“We didn’t tell you how to save gas,” crew chief Darian Grubb retorted.

Stewart did that on his own, and he did so masterfully. He took the No. 14 car number to Victory Lane in a Cup race for the first time since Dec. 8, 1968, in Montgomery, Ala., when Bobby Allison beat Richard Petty to the finish line by four feet. Not that the No. 14 has run all of them, but the Pocono 500 was the 1,329th Cup race since Allison’s win.

Stewart competed for a decade and won 33 races and two championships at Joe Gibbs Racing, but Sunday’s victory had special significance.

“I’ve always had a great group of people to work with at Gibbs, but it’s just a little different when it’s your own, you know, when you’re the one that’s got to be accountable for (it),” Stewart said.

Edwards, who won at Pocono last August by conserving fuel, lost the race off pit road to Stewart on the final stop for both cars, under a caution for debris on Lap 159 that was extended to seven laps when a light rain shower crossed the track.

“I didn’t think Tony could save that much fuel, but he did a really good job,” said Edwards, who led a race-high 103 of 200 laps. “Our car was getting great fuel mileage all day, and (I’m) just really proud of my guys. We were great on pit road.

“Tony beat us off of pit road on that last stop by about three quarters of a car length or something, and that’s primarily because of his pit stall (Stewart had pit stall No. 1, closest to the exit from pit road).”

Edwards gained five positions in the standings to sixth, 281 point behind Stewart.

Notes: Because of a crash in Saturday’s practice, Stewart was driving a backup car and was forced to begin the race last. … There were no major issues with NASCAR’s new double-file restart rule. Given that there were only five cautions in the race, the new format played a minor role. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran 27th in his second race with crew chief Lance McGrew. He fell two spots to 20th in the Cup standings. … A water pump failure dropped Kurt Busch to 37th at the finish, 18 laps down and cost him a position in the standings. He’s now fifth, 224 points behind Stewart. … Jimmie Johnson ran out of fuel on the final lap but coasted home in seventh place to remain third in points. … Denny Hamlin’s Toyota stopped running on the first lap because of a fuel-system issue and again on Lap 13 to cause the first two cautions of the race. Hamlin lost 22 laps during repairs and finished 38th, dropping five positions to 12th in the standings.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 1 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Office Depot / Old Spice 190/5 200 Running
2 11 99 Carl Edwards Ford Aflac 180/10 200 Running
3 13 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 165/0 200 Running
4 2 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 165/5 200 Running
5 5 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation Demo Day / U.S. Army 160/5 200 Running
6 20 47 Marcos Ambrose Toyota Little Debbie / Kingsford / Clorox 150/0 200 Running
7 3 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 151/5 200 Running
8 15 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Target 142/0 200 Running
9 10 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 138/0 200 Running
10 26 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Dodge Mobil 1 134/0 200 Running
11 9 16 Greg Biffle Ford 3M 135/5 200 Running
12 16 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 127/0 200 Running
13 22 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Irwin Vise-Grip 129/5 200 Running
14 21 07 Casey Mears Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 126/5 200 Running
15 14 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Budweiser 118/0 200 Running
16 8 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Dewalt 120/5 200 Running
17 32 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA 112/0 200 Running
18 19 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet TomTom 109/0 200 Running
19 12 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet Kellogg's / Carquest 111/5 200 Running
20 25 43 Reed Sorenson Dodge Valvoline Engine Guarantee 103/0 200 Running
21 17 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 100/0 200 Running
22 6 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 97/0 200 Running
23 23 20 Joey Logano * Toyota The Home Depot 94/0 200 Running
24 24 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 91/0 200 Running
25 27 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Best Buy 93/5 200 Running
26 31 6 David Ragan Ford UPS 85/0 200 Running
27 18 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet National Guard / Amp Energy 82/0 200 Running
28 28 96 Bobby Labonte Ford Ask.com 79/0 200 Running
29 33 98 Paul Menard Ford Pittsburgh Paints / Menards 76/0 200 Running
30 30 44 A.J. Allmendinger Dodge Stanley Tools 73/0 199 Running
31 34 7 Robby Gordon Toyota Pittsburgh Paints 70/0 199 Running
32 37 82 Scott Speed * Toyota Red Bull 67/0 199 Running
33 42 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 64/0 198 Running
34 29 12 David Stremme Dodge Penske Racing 61/0 198 Running
35 35 34 John Andretti Chevrolet Taco Bell 58/0 198 Running
36 43 51 Dexter Bean* Dodge LiveWire Energy 55/0 196 Running
37 4 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 57/5 182 Running
38 7 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 49/0 178 Running
39 36 09 Sterling Marlin Dodge Miccosukee Resort & Gaming 46/0 56 Fuel Pump
40 41 66 Dave Blaney Toyota Prism Motorsports 43/0 37 Vibration
41 39 187 Joe Nemechek Toyota NEMCO Motorsports 40/0 36 Vibration
42 38 171 David Gilliland Chevrolet Charter Air Transport.com 37/0 34 Ignition
43 40 36 Patrick Carpentier Toyota Tommy Baldwin Racing 34/0 32 Vibration

* Denotes Rookie

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