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Tony Stewart 2-for-2 in NASCAR Chase

Sprint Cup Series at New Hampshire
Sunday, September 25, 2011

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Tony Stewart gets the lobster
Getty Images for NASCAR

After climbing from his winning car Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart made the understatement of the year.

"We’ve got a shot at this thing," said Stewart, who by taking the checkered flag in the Sylvania 300 became the second driver to win the first two races in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup in the same year.

In a dramatic reversal of fortune, Stewart won the race—and grabbed a seven-point lead in the Cup standings over 12th-place finisher Kevin Harvick—when Clint Bowyer ran out of fuel with fewer than three laps to go.

"If that’s not a flip-flop from last year, I don’t know what is," Stewart radioed to crew chief Darian Grubb after crossing the finish line.

Stewart led last year’s Chase race at the Magic Mile but handed the victory to Bowyer when he ran out of fuel on the final lap.

With his second straight victory, his second of the season and the 41st of his career, Stewart has more than a shot at the title. The 2002 and 2005 Cup champion, who downplayed his own chances entering NASCAR’s 10-race playoff, now has to be considered the favorite.

Tony Stewart
CIA Stock Photo
Brad Keselowski parlayed pit strategy into a second-place run, and Greg Biffle, who won the first two Chase races in 2008, came home third, followed by Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers. Matt Kenseth, David Ragan, Carl Edwards, Juan Pablo Montoya and Regan Smith completed the top 10.

"I know exactly how (Bowyer) feels right now," Stewart said. "I saw him slow down down the back, and I thought, ‘Oh, no, you’re kidding me.’ That’s not the way you want to win, but we’re in the Chase now, and we’ve got to get everything we can get."

Bowyer failed to complete the final two laps and finished 26th.

A caution for Landon Cassill’s spin on Lap 156 played right into Gordon’s hands just past the halfway point in the 300-lap race. By putting off their pit stops as long as possible, Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin and Ragan were the only drivers on the lead lap when the yellow flag flew.

Gordon, who led a race-high 78 laps, Martin and Ragan came to pit road on Lap 158, giving them the latitude to finish the race on one more stop. The caution also benefited Keselowski, who had pitted before the caution on Lap 154 but within a one-stop window.

A long cycle of green-flag stops that began with Kahne’s visit to pit road on Lap 217 shuffled the running order. Kahne was the leader on Lap 247 but soon surrendered the top spot to Bowyer, who had stopped on Lap 226.

With 40 laps left, Bowyer—in fuel conservation mode—led Stewart, Gordon, Kahne and Biffle, with Martin, Keselowski, Ragan, Denny Hamlin and Montoya chasing. Hamlin, who also ran out of fuel, finished 29th.


Keselowski felt his team got maximum performance out of a car that probably would not have run second if fuel consumption hadn’t been a factor. Keselowski, now third in the standings and 11 points behind Stewart, also marveled at how far he has come in a short time.

"It’s funny, because 10 races ago, we left Loudon here 23rd in points," Keselowski said. "Who’d have ever thought we’d be third in 10 weeks? It’s been a good road to travel down the last few weeks, and today was no exception.

"We weren’t the fastest car—I’d be lying if I tried to tell you we were—but we made good adjustments to our car, got it to where it was a good, solid top-10 car and drove up to fourth or fifth there with 100 to go, 80 to go, whatever that was. … All in all, I felt like we earned the majority of our good fortune."

With eight race left in the Chase, only three drivers—Harvick, Keselowski and Edwards (14 points back)—are within 20 points of Stewart.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 20 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet Mobil 1 / Office Depot 47/1 300 Running
2 16 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge Miller Lite 43/1 300 Running
3 4 16 Greg Biffle Ford Ford40MPG.com 41/0 300 Running
4 7 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet DuPont 42/2 300 Running
5 3 83 Brian Vickers Toyota Red Bull 40/1 300 Running
6 27 17 Matt Kenseth Ford Affliction Clothing: Live Fast 38/0 300 Running
7 26 6 David Ragan Ford UPS "We Love Logistics" 38/1 300 Running
8 23 99 Carl Edwards Ford Scotts WinterGuard Fertilizer 36/0 300 Running
9 31 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet Degree Men 36/1 300 Running
10 17 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet Furniture Row Companies 35/1 300 Running
11 8 18 Kyle Busch Toyota M&M's 33/0 300 Running
12 6 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Budweiser Designated Driver 33/1 300 Running
13 18 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet Caterpillar 31/0 300 Running
14 24 20 Joey Logano Toyota The Home Depot 30/0 300 Running
15 2 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota Red Bull 30/1 300 Running
16 9 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 29/1 300 Running
17 12 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard 27/0 300 Running
18 10 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 27/1 300 Running
19 15 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota Bush's Best Baked Beans / Kingsford 25/0 300 Running
20 14 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet Sylvania / Menards 24/0 300 Running
21 13 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford Best Buy 23/0 300 Running
22 5 22 Kurt Busch Dodge Shell / Pennzoil 23/1 300 Running
23 25 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet Axe Cool Metal 21/0 300 Running
24 21 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet GoDaddy.com 21/1 300 Running
25 1 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet Haas Automation 20/1 300 Running
26 11 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Cheerios / Hamburger Helper 19/1 298 In Pit
27 32 38 J.J. Yeley Ford Long John Silver's 17/0 298 Running
28 19 00 David Reutimann Toyota Aaron's Dream Machine 16/0 298 Running
29 28 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota FedEx Ground 15/0 298 Running
30 29 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford Dewalt 14/0 297 Running
31 40 32 Mike Bliss Ford Street King 0 296 Running
32 33 34 David Gilliland Ford Front Row Motorsports 12/0 296 Running
33 30 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet Thank A Teacher Today / Security Benefit 0 294 Running
34 42 71 Andy Lally * Ford Interstate Moving Services 10/0 284 Running
35 22 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet Golden Corral / Richie Evans NASCAR Hall of Fame 9/0 80 In Pit
36 39 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota AMFMEnergy.com / Pellet & Wood Stoves 0 38 In Pit
37 35 66 Michael McDowell Toyota HP Racing LLC 7/0 35 In Pit
38 34 30 David Stremme Chevrolet Inception Motorsports 6/0 32 In Pit
39 41 37 Josh Wise Ford Max Q Motorsports 0 29 In Pit
40 36 7 Robby Gordon Dodge Speed Energy 4/0 28 In Pit
41 43 46 Scott Speed Ford Red Line Oil 0 23 In Pit
42 37 13 Casey Mears Toyota GEICO 2/0 19 Out of Race
43 38 55 Travis Kvapil Ford Front Row Motorsports 0 10 In Pit

* Denotes Rookie

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