Pocono II: Tony Stewart race report

FILL 'ER UP: STEWART FUELED BY FINISHING SECOND AT POCONO Home Depot Driver Earns 68-Point Buffer from Chase Cutoff As many Americans experience pain at the pump, Tony Stewart is not among them. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe...

FILL 'ER UP: STEWART FUELED BY FINISHING SECOND AT POCONO
Home Depot Driver Earns 68-Point Buffer from Chase Cutoff

As many Americans experience pain at the pump, Tony Stewart is not among them. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) used exceptional fuel mileage and smart pit strategy to finish second in Sunday's Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

The runner-up effort bumped Stewart up one spot in the championship standings to ninth, with a 68-point buffer between himself and 13th-place Matt Kenseth with only five races remaining before the cutoff for the 12-driver Chase for the Championship.

"My car was really loose all day, but there at the end we got the car pretty decent," said Stewart, who equaled his best result of the season since finishing second in round four at Atlanta Motor Speedway in March. "I can't complain. It came to us finally and we got it to run. We were on the same strategy as a lot of other guys. We didn't get second today because of some trick. We were on the same plan as the 99 (Carl Edwards), the 48 (Jimmie Johnson) and the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) and all those guys up front. I'm just really proud of all these guys. They stayed with it all day and all these Home Depot guys did a great job."

"All day" consisted of a three-hour and 49-minute marathon along with a 41-minute rain delay just past the halfway point of the 200-lap race around the spacious 2.5-mile triangle.

"We were a top-10 car, but we weren't a second-place car until that red flag," Stewart said. "I think the track tightened up and we got a lot better. It really helped our car out.

"We got a little too tight there, but it actually got us ahead of the 48 and ahead of a lot of these other guys that had been running up front. Once we were able to get track position and run up front, we were all on the same pit strategy and the same fuel strategy, so there wasn't a trick that got us up there. It was a lot of hard work from Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) and the guys. We ran out of fuel on the cool down lap, so it was perfect timing."

In a season that has yielded more disappointment than triumph, Stewart's Pocono run was also perfect timing as he and the No. 20 Home Depot Racing Team get set to defend their win at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course.

"I'm excited to go back to The Glen," Stewart said. "I love the road courses. They're a lot of fun. We've historically had pretty good luck there. We're leaving here with a smile on our face and looking forward to next weekend."

Getting that smile meant getting good fuel mileage.

"The hard part was to run fast enough to stay in front of Jimmie (Johnson) and slow enough to save fuel," Stewart said. "You just have to lift early. Lift 100 or 200 yards earlier in each corner than you're used to. Every bit that you're not on that throttle, that's all the more fuel that you're saving. It's hard to discipline yourself to do it and it's a lot easier when you've got Zippy on the pit box screaming at you every lap to save fuel. He knows what the situation is and he got us where we needed to be today.

"It was a challenge, but considering what our luck has been this year, this is as good as a win."

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series NASCAR Sprint Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Jimmie Johnson
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing