Office Depot/Mobil 1 Driver Perseveres with Ill-Handling Racecar To Score Fifth Top-15 Finish of 2012
Tony Stewart picked up 10 spots from where he started to finish a respectable 13th in the STP 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan.
It was a solid effort from three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Stewart, as his No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet was loose into the corners, tight through the middle of the 15-degree banking, and then loose whenever he began to accelerate off the corners.
But Stewart and crew chief Steve Addington persevered, making adjustments during each pit stop – a total of seven during the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.
“The start of the race had a similar feel to what we had at Texas last week, which wasn’t very good,” said Stewart, alluding to the 24th-place finish he and the No. 14 team endured in the series’ last stop at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. “Today went a lot better. Every change, Addington made it better and better and better. Hopefully, we can go back and try to run through a lot of this stuff and see what the direction is of what it’s liking and disliking. Last week it seemed like the further into the race we went, the further off-balance we got. This week, we came and got better as we went.”
Stewart started 23rd and with 100 laps to go was in striking distance of the top-10. He ran in 11th until his final pit stop under green on lap 225. A slight miscue on the tire change dropped Stewart to 15th once all the green-flag stops had cycled through, but a tenacious drive brought Stewart to 13th when the checkered flag dropped.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, finished 20th.
Denny Hamlin won the STP 400 to score his 19th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Kansas.
Martin Truex Jr. finished .700 of a second behind Hamlin in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were three caution periods for 18 laps, with 10 drivers failing to finish.
With round eight of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is eighth with 265 points, 47 behind series leader Biffle. Newman is 10th with 249 points, 63 out of first.