Battles ill-handling car to 25th-place finish
With three wins, four second-place finishes, 11 top-fives and 19 top-10s in 30 career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series starts at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway, Tony Stewart has high expectations anytime he visits the .75-mile oval. That’s why after battling an ill-handling racecar throughout Saturday night’s Richmond 400, Stewart was none too pleased with his 25th-place finish.
In posting the second-quickest time in Friday’s final practice session, Stewart and his Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 team of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) felt confident of their chances going into Saturday night’s 400-lap contest.
But from the onset of the race, Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet SS proved fitful.
“Tight, middle (of the corner) off.”
“Need forward bite.”
“Need to cut the center of the corner.”
“Loose in, tight in the middle, loose off.”
All were constant refrains from Stewart over the radio throughout the 3-hour, 12-minute race.
Despite numerous and, oftentimes, massive adjustments by crew chief Chad Johnston to the Rush Truck Centers/Mobil 1 Chevy, its handling remained wicked. When the checkered flag mercifully dropped, Stewart was one lap down in 25th.
It was a lackluster night for the rest of the team. Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Outback Steakhouse Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent at Richmond by finishing 11th. He started fifth and led twice for 23 laps.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 21st and finished 23rd.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 35th and finished 34th.
With round nine of 36 complete, Stewart leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is 15th with 243 points, 98 behind first-place Gordon. Harvick is 20th with 220 points, 121 out of first. Kurt Busch is 25th with 185 points, 156 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 153 points, 188 out of first.