BRISTOL BULLRING SHOWS ITS HORNS TO STEWART Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Finishes 27th in Irwin Tools Night Race The .533-mile oval that is Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is often called a bullring because of its tight confines and high speeds,...
BRISTOL BULLRING SHOWS ITS HORNS TO STEWART
Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Finishes 27th in Irwin Tools Night Race
The .533-mile oval that is Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway is often called a bullring because of its tight confines and high speeds, and it showed its horns to Tony Stewart in Saturday's Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event.
The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished a disappointing 27th after a strong start had him running second to Jimmie Johnson for the race's first 125 laps.
Stewart's night began to unravel in typical Bristol fashion when he slowed down to avoid a spinning David Ragan on lap 126. The two-time Sprint Cup champion wooed his red and black Chevy down in plenty of time, but the same could not be said of Tony Raines, who clipped the right-rear corner of Stewart's ride as the field bunched up.
The damage was cosmetic, but it still took two trips to pit road for the Office Depot/Old Spice team to repair the right-rear quarterpanel and rear decklid well enough to continue. The quick work by the pit crew allowed Stewart to stay on the lead lap, albeit in 25th-place.
With a racecar that was loose on entry and exit into the track's high-banked corners, Stewart was holding on with all he could to his lead-lap status.
On lap 212, the rear end of the No. 14 car stepped out on Stewart and it slapped the turn two wall -- first with the right-rear quarterpanel and then with the right-front fender. That car was hurt, but well enough to soldier on.
Still, telltale smoke began billowing from beneath the right-side wheel wells whenever Stewart sailed into the track's corners, as the crinkled fenders rubbed the tires. On lap 224 came the inevitable from Stewart: "We got a tire coming apart."
With the race still running under green and the rest of the field lapping the half-mile oval in 16 seconds, Stewart went three laps down as his crew changed right-side tires.
It proved to be a deficit he could not overcome, for the pace of the leaders was torrid. When the checkered flag dropped, Stewart was six laps down in 27th, breaking a five-race string of top-10 finishes. Stewart's last result outside the top-10 came July 3 at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway where he was caught up in a multi-car accident and placed 25th.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 WIX Filters Chevrolet Impala for SHR, had a much better evening. He finished sixth to score his sixth top-10 of 2010 and his 10th at Bristol.
Kyle Busch won the Irwin Tools Night Race to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his fourth at Bristol. Busch pulled the Bristol hat trick, winning the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race Wednesday night, the NASCAR Nationwide Series race Friday night and the Sprint Cup race Saturday night. It was the first time any driver has swept NASCAR's top-three touring divisions in a single race weekend.
David Reutimann finished .677 of a second behind Busch in the runner-up spot, while Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya, Greg Biffle, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 39 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
With round 24 of 36 complete, Stewart dropped two spots to sixth in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He now has 3,107 points and is 414 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick and 287 points ahead of 13th-place Jamie McMurray, the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship, which will be decided in the next two races. Newman fell one position to 15th in the standings. He has 2,802 points and is 118 points back of 12th-place Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase.
The Sprint Cup Series takes a rare weekend off before returning to action at Atlanta Motor Speedway for the Sept. 5 Emory Healthcare 500.