TONY STEWART CLAIMS FOURTH VICTORY OF SEASON TO CLOSE-IN ON POINTS LEAD WITH TWO RACES TO GO
FORT WORTH, Texas – (Nov. 6, 2011) – Capping a dominating performance at Texas Motor Speedway when several other drivers tried unsuccessfully to play the fuel mileage game in the AAA Texas 500, Tony Stewart put his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet in Victory Lane for the 43rd time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) career. It was Stewart’s fourth win in eight of the 10 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup races, and moved him closer to the leader in the championship hunt as he took his second career victory in the Lone Star State.
While Stewart had the dominant car today, and led seven times for 173 of the 334 laps, Jeff Burton, No. 31 Caterpillar Chevrolet came on strong and was the race leader during the closing laps of the event. But Burton ran out of gas two laps from the finish and wound up 27th in the finishing order.
Stewart, a two-time NSCS champion, made good on his post-race promise after winning last week at Martinsville, VA, that he was going after the title; and, he now sits just three points behind the series leader, Carl Edwards (Ford) who finished second. There are now just two stops remaining on the 36-race schedule, Phoenix, AZ and Homestead, FL, and Stewart continues to come on strong.
Three other Team Chevy drivers scored Top-10 finishes the 334-lap/501-mile race: Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet came in sixth; Dale Earnhardt Jr., No. 88 National Guard by Tradition/AMP Chevrolet came on strong in the end to finish seventh; and recent Talladega race winner, Clint Bowyer brought his No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet home in ninth.
Earnhardt, Jr. moved up two spots in the standings to the seventh position, 79 points behind the leader. While four-time NSCS champion Gordon jumped to eighth in the point order, 81 points down to the top spot.
It was a challenging day for championship contender Kevin Harvick in the No. 29 Rheem Chevrolet, but a hard-fought 13th place race finish was enough to maintain third in the order behind Stewart and Edwards. Harvick sits just 33 points shy of the lead.
Five-time defending NSCS champion Jimmie Johnson, brought his No. 48 mylowe’s Chevrolet across the stripe in 14th position, and now has a deficit of 55 points behind the leader. Paul Menard, No. 27 Quaker State/Menards Chevrolet and Ryan Newman, No. 39 Quicken Loans/Carrier Classic Chevrolet finished the race in 15th and 16th, respectively. Newman remains 12th in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings.
The remainder of the top-five finishers behind Stewart and Edwards were Kasey Kahne (Toyota), Matt Kenseth (Ford) and Greg Biffle (Ford).
Next up in the championship battle is Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, November 13, 2011.
DARIN GRUBB CREW CHIEF NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT/MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET
ON THEIR RACE WIN: “Everybody, the whole crew just did an awesome job. This Office Depot/Mobil 1 team is a great group of guys there is no quit in them. That is four out of eight, let’s go for two more!”
TONY STEWART NO. 14 OFFICE DEPOT /MOBIL 1 CHEVROLET RACE WINNER:
YOU MADE UP YOUR MIND YOU ARE GOING TO WIN THIS CHAMPIONSHIP, HOW MUCH OF IT IS MIND OVER MATTER AT THIS POINT? “I told you guys that last week, nobody listens to me when I talk anymore. No, I mean we are set on it man, this is just the way it is going to be. This is for the Wallace family, Mr. Hendrick and his wife, after last week, they had a long week and I had a buddy that passed away when we were in Charlotte, Jim Duffer, real close friend of mine, forget him last week and I didn’t want to forget about him this week. Do not count us out of this thing; I can tell you that, we did everything we could do today. Got to thank Office Depot, Mobil 1, Coca-Cola and Chevy, Mac Tools, Burger King, Tornados, US Army, Haas Automations, I normally don’t make it that far down the list, so I did pretty good tonight.”
TAKE US INSIDE THAT RACE CAR: “Darin (Grubb, Crew Chief) did an awesome job, it is hard to do for the car and he has made the right calls the whole Chase. It was like we told DJ (Dale Jarrett) on that last restart, if I could get the restart on him (Carl Edwards) and get ahead of him; I thought we could stay there. That was the difference and the guys had an awesome pit-stop at the end. If they would not have had that pit-stop we would not be here.”
NOBODY HAS EVER GONE WINLESS IN THE REGULAR SEASON AND COME OUT AND WON THE CHAMPIONSHIP, YOU ARE ON YOUR WAY, THREE POINTS WITHIN CARL EDWARDS, WHAT DO YOU HAVE TO SAY TO YOUR COMPETITION THIS WEEK? “I don’t think we have to say anything, I think our performance today spoke for its self. He knows already, trust me!”
HOW DID YOU AND THIS TEAM PULL OFF YOUR FOURTH WIN IN THE CHASE? “We had a great Office Depot/ Mobil 1 Chevy today. It was pretty balanced yesterday; we just could not put that big lap up, up-front. The big key for us was hanging on for the first ten laps of a run and it seemed like we could start pulling away after that. Carl (Edwards) kept us honest today, but we did everything we could do. We got all the bonus points we could get and got the win. We gained more than we needed to gain on the average for the week, so we are doing good.”
THE MARGIN IS THREE, HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE MATH HEADING INTO THE FINAL TWO RACES? “Well, if you can do simple math, you can figure out that we gained over half of it in one week and we have two weeks to go. It does not take much right now, it is one spot if a guy wins the race, we are doing exactly what we need to do, I am really confident right now.”
JEFF GORDON, NO. 24 DRIVE TO END HUNGER CHEVROLET, FINISHED 6TH:
ON HIS RACE: “Great effort by the Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet, real proud of everybody, did not qualify well, we had to start in the middle of the field and this place can be tough to move up there and we moved up right away and at times I thought we had a car that could compete for the win with those guys up-front there, got up to about fourth, but when that sun went down it changed for us and we just could not keep up with the track conditions and lost a little bit there at the end. Compared to the way we ran here earlier in the year, this is almost like a win for us.”
GREAT RUN HERE TONIGHT, YOU HAVE TO BE FAIRLY HAPPY WITH THAT I WOULD GUESS? “Yea, I am. If you look at our history here in Texas, it is not my best track and we struggled a little bit this weekend, so when they dropped the green and we were driving forward I was pretty happy, we made some adjustments to make it even better and at one point in the race I thought we had something that could compete with the guys up-front for the win. When the sun went down, we lost the handling a little bit and got real loose, so we fell back. Still sixth is a great day for our Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet.”
TALK ABOUT THE TIRE STRATEGY? “We took the two tires and we got a couple of good restarts and got up there into third and fourth which I was very happy with. But, we wore the left rear tire out and the car got extremely loose. So, we had to come in and pit. We were just loose in general on that last run and a lot of guys closed up on us. That is why we lost a couple of spots. We took four on that last stop. I thought Alan (Gustafson, crew chief) played the strategy perfectly. We made huge strides and this is really something to build on at this race track.”
ANY THOUGHTS ON THE POINTS BATTLE BETWEEN TONY STEWART AND CARL EDWARDS? “I’ll tell you, it’s incredible. It is kind of fun to watch those two battling. What these next two weeks are going to be like is going to be incredible. I don’t think anybody expected Tony to have a Chase like this, but, you know what, he’s a champion. He’s a great driver and when they get their setups in the cars to where they are right now, watch out for those cars. Carl’s not done yet. Those guys are solid and really strong. I’ll tell you, Phoenix is going to be interesting. To me Phoenix is the unknown with this new pavement and I think we are all going to be anxious to see not only how the race goes, but how this championship unfolds.”
GIL MARTIN, CREW CHIEF, NO. 29 RHEEM CHEVROLET DRIVEN BY KEVIN HARVICK, FINISHED 13TH:
NOT THE RUN YOU IMAGINED: “No, not really. I mean, if we just ran it straight out, we probably could have run seventh or eighth if we didn’t take two tires under green. But we had to try something and hope the car would come around and maybe we could steal a top-five finish right there. We had about an eighth place car today which is not horrible, but it’s not what we needed. We gambled right there tryin to steal a top-five and it didn’t work so it probably cost us six or seven points. If it works we gained a few points. It is what it is.
“We just didn’t have the early speed. We were good after like 15 or 20 laps, but we just didn’t have any early speed. The pit crew did good. Everybody did good. It was good, we just didn’t have early speed and I just don’t know why. We had it on Saturday in practice and didn’t have it today.”
JIMMIE JOHNSON, NO. 48 MYLOWES CHEVROLET, FINISHED 14TH:
ON TODAY’S RACE: “Just a loose car. I fought a loose race car all night long and I lost it off of four. And I think sliding thru the grass did some damage underneath the car. It may have been the rear-end or something because I didn’t really drive really good after that. We were loose, but fast beforehand and then after the spin that really hurt the car”