EIGHTH AT BRISTOL KEEPS STEWART SIXTH IN POINTS Home Depot Driver Picks Up 20 Spots in Sharpie 500 Tony Stewart drove his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from 28th to as high as fourth in Saturday night's Sharpie 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at ...
EIGHTH AT BRISTOL KEEPS STEWART SIXTH IN POINTS
Home Depot Driver Picks Up 20 Spots in Sharpie 500
Tony Stewart drove his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota from 28th to as high as fourth in Saturday night's Sharpie 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway, and when the checkered flag dropped on the 24th race of the season, Stewart finished eighth to secure his 12th top-10 of 2008.
Despite the solid effort, it was a bittersweet result for the two-time Sprint Cup champion. Still winless in 2008, Stewart yearns to finally end a Sprint Cup race in victory lane. The fact that he was able to gain 24 positions by lap 232 of the 500-lap race with an aggressive pass of Jeff Gordon wasn't enough to satisfy the 32-time Sprint Cup victor.
"We got all the way up to fourth and then couldn't do any more than that," said Stewart, who has led 1,352 laps at Bristol in 20 career Sprint Cup starts. "We needed to roll the center (of the corner) better, but we just never found a way to do it, and at the same time, other guys got their cars driving better. That's why we wound up eighth."
Stewart maintained his sixth-place point standing, but expanded the cushion between himself and 13th-place David Ragan -- the first driver on the outside looking in of the 12-driver Chase for the Championship -- to 170 points with only two races remaining before the Chase field is set.
Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates -- Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin -- finished second and third, respectively, in the Sharpie 500.
The collective result marked the second time in three weeks that all three JGR cars finished in the top-10. Two weeks ago at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International, Busch won, Stewart was second and Hamlin finished eighth.
Busch remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race. He continues to be the series' point leader, but his lead has been trimmed to 212 markers over second-place Carl Edwards, who won the Sharpie 500. Hamlin climbed to 11th in points and sits 709 points arrears Busch. Stewart is 596 points behind Busch.
Edwards' victory in the Sharpie 500 was his 13th career Sprint Cup victory, his sixth of the season and his second at Bristol. Busch finished 1.969 seconds behind Edwards, while Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Gordon rounded out the top-five. Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Stewart, Matt Kenseth and Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.