A PRELUDE TO A CHASE Stewart Finishes Second at Richmond, Slots Third in Chase Standings Tony Stewart finished second in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway after a...
A PRELUDE TO A CHASE
Stewart Finishes Second at Richmond, Slots Third in Chase Standings
Tony Stewart finished second in Saturday night's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway after a spirited battle with Dale Earnhardt Jr., during the last 20 laps of the 400-lap race.
The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) had to pass and then hold off the hard-charging Earnhardt while he pursued reigning Nextel Cup champion Jimmie Johnson for the lead. While unable to catch eventual race winner Johnson, Stewart's runner-up effort gave him nine top-fives and 18 top-10s so far this season.
"We just didn't end up where we needed to be," said Stewart, who has captured the top spot at Richmond five other times -- thrice in Nextel Cup and twice in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series. "I'm pretty proud of these guys. They did a great job. We had a good night. We just kept sneaking up on it all night, kept making changes and kept getting better, but we feel like we kind of let one get away from us tonight."
Stewart started seventh and was a top-five mainstay. Pit stops occasionally lost some of the track position earned on the race track, but constant chassis adjustments directed by crew chief Greg Zipadelli and tenacious driving by Stewart put the No. 20 team in position to contend for the their fourth win this season.
And while it was Johnson who took the checkered flag for the sixth time in 2007, Stewart's strong run showed that he belonged in this year's Chase for the Nextel Cup, as he clinched a spot in the Chase three races ago at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway.
"I'm really proud of how this team rebounded from missing the Chase last year," said Stewart, who fell a scant 16 points shy of making the Chase in 2006. "We ended this year's 26-week stretch second in points and we're slotted third in the Chase. That shows that this team never gives up and that all of The Home Depot associates who support us don't give up either."