STEWART SOLID AT TEXAS, FINISHES SIXTH Despite Handling Issues, Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Scores 23rd Top-10 of 2009 The good news for Tony Stewart during Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort ...
STEWART SOLID AT TEXAS, FINISHES SIXTH
Despite Handling Issues, Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Scores 23rd Top-10 of 2009
The good news for Tony Stewart during Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth was that he spent the majority of the 334-lap race comfortably in the top-10. The bad news for the driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) was that he had difficulty cracking the top-three en route to a sixth-place finish, which is his 23rd top-10 finish of 2009.
"We missed it a little bit today and it was one of those changes that we couldn't do on a regular pit stop, so we just kind of had to work around it," Stewart said. "I'm really proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and these guys. They had good pit stops today and Darian and I kept talking about what we thought we could do to make the Office Depot/Old Spice Chevy better. I thought team-wise we had an awesome day working together and making gains at it. We never said, 'Well, we just can't get it any better.' We kept throwing things at it to try to make it better."
Stewart's car went from one end of the spectrum to the other during the course of the 501-mile race, for in the beginning of the race, his car was tight and by the end of the event, he was communicating to Grubb that his car needed to be tightened up because it was loose.
Grubb and the Office Depot/Old Spice crew worked to find a solid balance on the car throughout a series of wedge, tire pressure and track-bar adjustments, and while the car was a top-10 mainstay, Stewart never could find his way to the front of the field.
Despite not contenting for the victory, the No. 14 team locked up its top-10 finish with a stellar pit stop with 18 laps to go. The race had been caution-free since lap 213 and nearly every driver needed to pit for fuel in the final 20 laps. Any issue with the stop, which included a splash of fuel and two tires, could have dropped the team outside the top-20.
As they've done all year, the Office Depot/Old Spice crew delivered a flawless stop and Stewart brought home his 10th top-10 finish in 16 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
Stewart's teammate, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation/U.S. Army Chevrolet Impala SS for SHR, finished 12th to score his 16th top-12 finish of 2009.
Kurt Busch stretched his fuel mileage and beat Denny Hamlin by 25.686 seconds to win the Dickies 500 and score his 20th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Texas.
Matt Kenseth finished third, while Mark Martin and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-five. Stewart, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton and A.J. Allmendinger comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 26 laps, with six drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
Both SHR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Championship. Stewart remained fifth in the standings and is now 178 points behind Chase leader Jimmie Johnson, who was involved in a lap three accident and finished 38th. Newman fell one spot to ninth and is 324 markers out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Nov. 15 Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k at Phoenix International Raceway. The season's penultimate race starts at 3:15 p.m. EST with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 2:30 p.m.