WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 12, 2001) - Tony Stewart seemed to do more landscaping than racing in Sunday's Global Crossing @ The Glen NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International. When Stewart drove his battered and beaten ...
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 12, 2001) - Tony Stewart seemed to do more landscaping than racing in Sunday's Global Crossing @ The Glen NASCAR Winston Cup Series event at Watkins Glen International.
When Stewart drove his battered and beaten #20 Home Depot Pontiac across the finish line in 26th place, it ended what had been a torturous day on the 2.45-mile road course.
First, the left rear bumper of Stewart's ride was ripped off on lap 22 following contact with John Andretti's Pontiac while racing for sixth. Then Boris Said punted Stewart going into turn one on lap 37 while Stewart was in seventh, crushing what was left of the rear bumper and relegating Stewart to 36th.
It was far from over, as someone, somewhere, followed Said's lead by drilling the #20 machine in the right side door while Stewart worked his was back to the front, creating a six-inch gash just above the frame rail.
Despite all that, Stewart and crew chief Greg Zipadelli remained optimistic that a good finish could still be salvaged. They continued to work on the handling of The Home Depot Pontiac, adjusting the chassis whenever a trip to pit road could be made without a substantial loss of track position.
After making their final pit stop of the day on lap 70, Zipadelli radioed to his 30th place driver, "Don't worry about gougin' to get your way to the front. There ain't much good sheet metal left on it anyway."
Stewart did his best to oblige Zipadelli, but the actions of others, as they had all day, kept the Rushville, Ind., native from making much progress.
Oil laid down by the #26 Ford of Jimmy Spencer on lap 79 sent Stewart off course and into the gravel in turn one. Then, following a restart on lap 86 when turn one became a bottleneck and cars were sent spinning, Stewart made a return trip to the same gravel trap in an effort to avoid all the chaos.
With his car filled with enough stones to cover a small driveway, Stewart soldiered home to complete the 90-lap race. His 26th place effort kept him fifth in points, but he dropped ever further from the point lead, as 419 markers now distance Stewart from point leader Jeff Gordon.
Exemplifying the term, "The rich get richer," Gordon won the Global Crossing
The Glen for his fifth win of the season. It was his fourth career win at Watkins Glen, and it has earned Gordon a 194-point lead over his nearest challenger - Ricky Rudd. Despite the fact that the point lead has been traded many times this season by a handful of drivers, Gordon's margin over Rudd is the largest lead of any driver this season.
Trailing Gordon to the line by .172-seconds to notch his career-best road course finish was Jeff Burton, while Jeremy Mayfield finished third to earn his seventh top-10 finish of the year. Rudd came home fourth and joined Gordon as the only drivers to score 15 top-five finishes in the 22 races held so far. Resilient Todd Bodine was the fifth-place man, scoring just his second top-five of the year.
The next race on the Winston Cup schedule is the Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. EDT. TNT will provide live coverage of the event.