(Joliet, Ill. -- July 11, 2004) Tony Stewart, after a day of controversy and competitive racing, won the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. It was the 18th win of his career. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, still on...
(Joliet, Ill. -- July 11, 2004) Tony Stewart, after a day of controversy and competitive racing, won the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Sunday. It was the 18th win of his career.
The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet, still on probation for a scuffle with Brian Vickers in Sonoma, Calif., two weeks ago, got caught in another controversy Sunday.
"What an awesome day," Stewart said after the race. "It wasn't as exactly as smooth as we would like to have had."
Stewart's "smooth" day seemingly ended after a caution-driven restart on lap 127 when he bumped then-leader Kasey Kahne from behind, and started an eight-car pileup. NASCAR deemed it a "racing incident" and no one was penalized.
"I still don't know what happened on that re-start with Kasey (Kahne)," Stewart said. "I got a really good jump, got past the (no.) 40 (car) and got back in line. I don't know if it was the shift pattern or what as far as when he was supposed to shift. All of sudden, he checked up. We got in the back of him and turned him around. It could have been us out just as easy."
Kahne, the series' leading rookie, had a different take.
"We had a pretty good race car. When we took off, I was in third gear and right as I was getting ready to shift into fourth, I started getting a little loose. As I pulled into fourth gear, my car turned right and went into the wall.
"Obviously, the No. 20 was in the back of me and just put us up into the wall. I don't know why he would do that, or what happened there."
That on-track incident transferred to pit road and a fracas in each team's pit ensued. The crews scuffled, sending at least one crew chief -- Kahne's Tommy Baldwin -- to the NASCAR hauler for a chat with race officials.
"That's just Tony Stewart doing what he's been doing all year, driving like a moron, you know? There's no reason to do that stuff," Baldwin said. "He gets away with it all he wants, and all NASCAR does is fine him. He's got plenty of money. The guy needs to sit out a race."
Jimmie Johnson finished the race second, and Dale Jarrett finished third. Pole-sitter Jeff Gordon and Jeremy Mayfield rounded out the top five.
The race saw 20 lead changes among 13 drivers -- the most ever for a race at Chicagoland Speedway, now celebrating its fourth season of NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series racing.
Stewart praised the track's competitiveness and second and third grooves that are forming.
After the Tropicana 400, Johnson retains the points lead over Dale Earnhardt Jr., who is 105 points back. Gordon is third, Tony Stewart is fourth and Matt Kenseth is fifth.