Talladega II: Tony Stewart race report

Stewart Finishes Eighth at Talladega Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished eighth in Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was ...

Stewart Finishes Eighth at Talladega

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR), finished eighth in Sunday's UAW-Ford 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. It was a disappointing result for Stewart as he led four times for 38 laps and was in contention for the win before getting shuffled out of the draft on the final lap.

Much of the 188-lap race was akin to a game of follow-the-leader, with the majority of the 43-car pack content to ride behind one another in single file. The fear of getting shuffled to the rear of the field should one step out of line, or the fear of getting caught up in "the big one" -- the inevitable superspeedway accident that typically takes out a gaggle of cars -- kept most everyone running nose-to-tail, lap after lap, with Stewart going along for the ride.

As a result, it was an uneventful day for two-thirds of the race. The No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet was running in top form, with only one slight track bar adjustment needed during a pit stop on lap 93. Even Stewart was quiet on the radio most of the race as he piloted his orange and black machine around the 2.66-mile high-banked oval.

By lap 99, Stewart had found his way to the lead where he stayed for the next 10 laps. He flirted with the top spot over the next 75 laps, managed to stay out of trouble and eventually led four times for a total of 38 laps. But he didn't lead the lap that mattered most -- the final lap.

With 22 laps to go, Stewart was in the lead and officially, a sitting duck. Cars that at one time were single file behind him, dropped out of line and started a charge to the front. Stewart tried to block to protect his lead, but in doing so, lost the draft and quickly got shuffled backward. By lap 175, Stewart was all the way back in seventh.

A caution on lap 176 gave everyone a chance to catch their breath and prepare for what would be an eight-lap shootout to the checkered flag.

The race restarted on lap 180 and Stewart began his push to the front. Lap after lap he maneuvered his way through the field. When the white flag flew, Stewart was in second and potentially on his way to his first Talladega victory.

But doing some maneuvering of his own was Jeff Gordon, who dropped out from behind Stewart to make his own charge to the front. As a result, Stewart lost the draft and was shuffled back through the field. When the checkered flag fell, Stewart was eighth while Gordon went on to capture the victory.

-credit: jgr

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About this article
Series Monster Energy NASCAR Cup
Drivers Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart