STEWART SIXTH AT POCONO Home Depot Driver Logs 14th Top-10 of Season Tony Stewart picked up 18 positions en route to a solid sixth-place finish in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The driver of...
STEWART SIXTH AT POCONO
Home Depot Driver Logs 14th Top-10 of Season
Tony Stewart picked up 18 positions en route to a solid sixth-place finish in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) started the 200-lap race from 24th in the 43-car field before logging his 14th top-10 finish of the season.
"Considering we started 24th and ended up sixth, I don't think that's too bad a run," said Stewart, who now has 13 top-10 finishes in 18 career Nextel Cup races at Pocono. "We should've started better than that, obviously, but it's a decent finish nonetheless."
Stewart cracked the top-10 with a pass of Kevin Harvick on lap 22 and methodically worked his way into the top-five just past the halfway point. His ascension up the leaderboard was augmented by quick work in the pits, as his Home Depot over-the wall team routinely got him out off pit road in the same position he entered.
But Stewart's drive toward the front was stymied with a race car that could not keep up with the blistering pace set by eventual winner Kurt Busch.
"We couldn't roll the center of the corners as good as we would've liked, and that just kept costing us time all day," said Stewart, who won at Pocono in June 2003. "The front of the car kept hitting the ground into (turn) one, and that really slowed us down in the center of (turns) one and two. That's where guys were beating us at the beginning of a run. After five laps we were good. We just couldn't take off like those guys could."
But "those guys" -- Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Stewart's JGR teammate Denny Hamlin and Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson -- were the only drivers with cars better than Stewart's No. 20 Chevrolet. Stewart deftly held off a challenge from Ryan Newman with less than 20 laps to go, and by the time the checkered flag dropped, Stewart was comfortably in sixth.
The result allowed Stewart to maintain his fifth-place standing in the championship point race, where he sits 487 markers behind series leader Gordon.