STEWART STEELY IN DAN LOWRY 400 AT RICHMOND Home Depot Driver Overcomes Balky Alternator to Finish Fourth Tony Stewart rallied to finish a strong fourth in Saturday night's Crown Royal Dan Lowry 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond...
STEWART STEELY IN DAN LOWRY 400 AT RICHMOND
Home Depot Driver Overcomes Balky Alternator to Finish Fourth
Tony Stewart rallied to finish a strong fourth in Saturday night's Crown Royal Dan Lowry 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) posted his sixth top-10 of the season and his 13th top-10 in 19 Sprint Cup races at Richmond after overcoming a balky alternator that sapped the amount of electrical power available inside his race car.
"I don't know whether we lost an alternator belt or just broke an alternator or what, but I had to run the whole last half of the race with almost no fans, just front and rear brake blowers," said Stewart, as he sat on the pit wall after climbing from his race car. "So no bead blowers, no air conditioning -- none of the driver comforts we're used to. The last 100 laps we ran with no fans at all -- not even brake fans. To be able to run the last 100 laps like that and not have brake fans -- which is a huge deal here at Richmond -- I think we did pretty well."
Making the drive even more impressive was the fact that Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli turned a Home Depot Toyota that was barely hanging within the top-10 for the race's first 300 laps into a car that deserved to be in the top-five when the checkered flag dropped.
"I'm really proud of Zippy and all these guys on The Home Depot team." Stewart said. "We were absolutely terrible for about 300 laps, and then the last two pit stops we made a change that really brought this car to life. Most of the day we kept concentrating on an area that normally we have to focus on to be decent at the end of a race, but we went a totally different direction the last quarter of the race and actually got it halfway decent. It was a little too late, but with a little help, it got us a top-five. That's the whole moral of the story to this team -- we never give up. Even at the end we may not have been the best car, but we were a fourth-place car."
The driver with the best car was Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin. The Chesterfield, Va.-native started from the pole and led twice for an astounding 381 of the 410 laps available (92.9 percent), but a cut tire with less than 20 laps remaining caused him to forfeit the lead and go three laps down.
"(Richmond) is Denny's Daytona 500 or my Brickyard 400. I mean, this is it for him," said Stewart, alluding to Richmond being Hamlin's hometown track. "To have won the Nationwide Series race last night and to have been able to win the Cup race after leading as many laps as he did tonight, it would've been an awesome weekend for him. And it still was an awesome weekend because everyone knew he had the fastest car here tonight. Anybody who doesn't know that wasn't paying attention to the race. Your heart hurts for him because you know how badly you want to run well at home, and this is home for him."
Stewart's other Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Kyle Busch, finished second to score his seventh top-10 of the season and his sixth top-five in seven career Sprint Cup races at Richmond.
Busch is now the overall point leader in the championship driver standings. His second-place finish vaulted him past former series leader Jeff Burton by 18 points after round 10 of 36.
Hamlin and Stewart, meanwhile, occupy the sixth and eighth positions, respectively. Hamlin dropped two spots and is 146 points behind Busch, while Stewart gained one spot and is 198 points out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the May 10 Dodge Challenger 500 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway. The race begins at 7:20 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by FOX beginning with its pre-race show at 7 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.