Stewart Endures Long Night at Bristol
Bass Pro Shops/Office Depot Driver Battles Ill-Handling Car To Finish 28th
Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished a disappointing 28th in Saturday’s Irwin Tools Night Race NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. He spent much of the night battling an ill-handling racecar on the demanding .533-mile oval.
The two-time Sprint Cup champion started an uncharacteristic 42nd after struggling on Friday during practice and qualifying. The struggle came as a surprise to many considering Stewart has one pole, one win, four top-three, six top-five and eight top-10 finishes in 26 career Sprint Cup Series starts at Bristol. In addition to leading 1,354 laps, prior to tonight, his average start was 13.5, his average finish was 17th and he had a lap completion rate of 96 percent. But, this was not an average Bristol night for him.
“It was better than it was shaping up to be, yesterday,” said Stewart, who won at Bristol in August 2001. “Thanks to our teammates for the help that we got from them. That definitely made us better, for sure. It was just a rough night, but we struggled through it.”
Ryan Newman, Stewart’s teammate and driver of the No. 39 Bass Pro Shops/Realtree Chevrolet Impala for SHR, started from the pole and finished eighth. He ran with the leaders most of the night to score his 12th top-10 finish at Bristol and his 12th top-10 of the season.
Brad Keselowski won the Irwin Tools Night Race to score his fourth career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Bristol.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .951 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Newman, Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were six caution periods for 42 laps with eight drivers failing to finish the 500-lap race.
With round 24 of 36 complete, Newman continues to lead the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He remains seventh and now has 762 points, 68 markers back of series leader Kyle Busch and 73 points ahead of 11th-place Keselowski. Stewart remains 10th and now has 710 points, which puts him 120 points behind Busch while giving him a 21-point cushion over Keselowski.