Stewart Snags Second Straight Top-10 In Socal; Eighth-Place Finish in Fontana Bumps Two-Time Champ to Third in Points Tony Stewart dodged rain showers and a tight-handling racecar to finish a solid eighth in Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Sprint...
Stewart Snags Second Straight Top-10 In Socal; Eighth-Place Finish in Fontana Bumps Two-Time Champ to Third in Points
Tony Stewart dodged rain showers and a tight-handling racecar to finish a solid eighth in Sunday's Auto Club 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Stewart, who led once for three circuits in the 250-lap race, scored his eighth top-10 finish in 16 starts at the 2-mile oval. It was also his second consecutive eighth-place finish, as the driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished eighth in the season-opening Daytona 500 last Sunday at Daytona (Fla.) International Speedway. The back-to-back top-10 efforts bumped the two-time Sprint Cup champion into a tie for third in the point standings with Kurt Busch.
"This isn't one of my strongest tracks, and to come out of here with a top-10 with this young of a team as far as us working together, that's a pretty strong statement right there," said Stewart, co-owner of SHR with Oxnard, Calif.-based Haas Automation, the largest CNC machine tool builder in the western world. "The good thing is today was a big day of getting through how much is a little bit tight and what is a lot tight. I was pretty happy with the communication today between me and Darian (Grubb, crew chief). Our guys had really great pit stops. That last pit stop, they got us out seventh, but I just couldn't hold us up there. I felt like team-wise, we've been solid for two weeks straight."
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala SS for SHR, finished 28th, two laps down. In the early part of the race, the left end-plate on the rear wing of his car came off while the field was under caution, and Newman lost several positions when he pitted for repairs.
Stewart continues to lead the SHR driver lineup in the championship point race. He picked up four spots to climb to third and currently stands 91 points arrears series leader Matt Kenseth. Newman gained two spots to climb to 34th in the standings and sits 251 points out of first.
Kenseth, winner of last Sunday's Daytona 500, beat Jeff Gordon by 1.463 seconds to win the Auto Club 500, and in doing so, became the first driver since Gordon in 1997 to win the season's first two events. It was also Kenseth's 18th career Sprint Cup victory and his third at Fontana.
Finishing third in the Auto Club 500 was Kyle Busch, while Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch rounded out the top-five. Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards, Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 43 laps, with seven drivers failing to finish the 500-mile race.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the March 1 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.