Loudon II: Tony Stewart race report

STEWART SALVAGES TOP-15 FINISH IN SYLVANIA 300 Office Depot/Old Spice Drivers Leads Four Times for 52 Laps in Chase Opener Tony Stewart proved to be a formidable force in the first half and then some of Sunday's Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup...

STEWART SALVAGES TOP-15 FINISH IN SYLVANIA 300
Office Depot/Old Spice Drivers Leads Four Times for 52 Laps in Chase Opener

Tony Stewart proved to be a formidable force in the first half and then some of Sunday's Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) led four times for 52 laps and appeared ready to vie for his third career Sprint Cup win at the 1.058-mile oval. But a loose axle cap on the left-rear wheel dropped Stewart from fourth to 30th when he had to spend extra time during a scheduled pit stop on lap 194 to affix a new axle cap. While he battled his way back through the field, 14th was as high as Stewart could get before the checkered flag dropped after lap 300.

"We had a mechanical problem with the assembly of the racecar," said Darian Grubb, crew chief for Stewart and the No. 14 team. "We had a bolt come loose and the axle cap came off and we had to fix it. We gave up all of those positions on pit road just to fix that, and after that we struggled the rest of the day to get halfway through the field.

"We're a new organization. We're going to have to fix all those problems and keep getting stronger."

It was a tough beginning for Stewart and Co. in the Chase for the Championship, as New Hampshire served as round one in the 10-race Chase. Stewart came into the Granite State seeded second, 10 points behind Chase leader Mark Martin. He leaves sixth in points, 74 markers arrears Martin.

"We're always trying to do everything the best we can," Grubb added. "We had some definite lows because of the mechanical issue with the car. We'll just go to Dover (Del.) next week and try to get the win."

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army/Haas Automation Chevrolet Impala SS for SHR, finished a strong seventh. It was his 13th top-10 finish this season and his 10th top-10 in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire. The solid effort allowed Newman to gain three spots in the Chase standings. He now sits seventh, 79 points behind Martin.

Martin added to his championship point lead by beating Denny Hamlin to win the Sylvania 300. He crossed the stripe .159 of a second ahead of Hamlin, and in doing so, scored his 40th career Sprint Cup victory, his series-leading fifth of the season and his first at New Hampshire.

Finishing third was pole-sitter Juan Pablo Montoya, while reigning Sprint Cup Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Kurt Busch, Newman, Elliott Sadler, Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 11 caution periods for 48 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the race.

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule -- the second race of the 10-race Chase for the Championship -- is the Sept. 27 AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m.

-credit: shr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Juan Pablo Montoya
Teams Stewart-Haas Racing