Second at The Glen Sends Stewart to Seventh in Points Home Depot Driver Leads Twice for Seven Laps to Secure 12th Top-10 of Season Tony Stewart drove his No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet to a solid second-place finish in Sunday's AMD at The Glen...
Second at The Glen Sends Stewart to Seventh in Points
Home Depot Driver Leads Twice for Seven Laps to Secure 12th Top-10 of Season
Tony Stewart drove his No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet to a solid second-place finish in Sunday's AMD at The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Stewart, a winner of the past two races at the 2.45-mile road course, was poised to capture his third straight victory at The Glen. He was leading Kevin Harvick with four laps to go in the 90-lap race, but Harvick, whose No. 29 Chevrolet had proven strong all day, passed Stewart on lap 87 as the two drag-raced down the frontstretch and into turn one. Harvick held onto the lead despite Stewart's presence in his rearview mirror, beating Stewart to the finish by .892 of a second.
"That was a lot of fun. We just overdrove it a little bit there and smoked the tires on the last corner and opened up the door for Kevin," said Stewart. "He did an awesome job. He hit his marks every lap. He's a good friend of mine, and it's fun racing guys you trust like that.
"Second-place is okay for us because it was a good day for our Home Depot team. We're leaving here with a smile on our face."
Stewart started eighth but quickly made his presence known, climbing to second following a restart on lap 30. Leading at the time was Kurt Busch, who appeared to have a dominant car.
Said Stewart to crew chief Greg Zipadelli on lap 39, "We're not terrible. Kurt's just really good right now."
But as fast as Busch was, he couldn't outrun bad luck.
With teams making green flag pit stops, Busch came to pit road on lap 55 just as the caution flag waved for Joe Nemechek's spin in the outer loop. NASCAR closed pit road, but Busch had already committed to driving down pit lane. The result wasn't good.
After leading twice for a race-high 38 laps, Busch was penalized by NASCAR officials for pitting too soon. He went from first to the tail end of the longest line, never to factor in the race again. He finished 19th.
"You feel for Kurt Busch today," said Stewart. "He had, if not the strongest car, one of the strongest cars, for sure. I don't know where his car and Kevin's would have stacked up there at the end, but he definitely had a car that was capable of winning the race today if it didn't get caught at the wrong time in the pits with the caution coming out right before he hit the line. That's absolutely rotten, terrible luck right there and nothing that him or his team could have done anything about."
With Busch out of the picture, the race turned into a battle between Stewart and Harvick.
"Our only shot at getting by Kevin was at the end of the backstretch," said Stewart in regard to the one and only time he got past Harvick on lap 81. "On the restart he got a little bit loose going up the hill through the esses, and that let us get a run on him. He pulled down to the inside to block. I was alright with that. I wanted to be on the outside anyway going into that corner. We got in there really good. My brakes were really good when they were cold, but as soon as we got by we were really loose and he was able to stay with us.
"I couldn't keep the rear end of the car underneath me under braking or acceleration after that. I got loose coming into (turn) seven, but didn't let him get underneath me until we got into (turn) one. About the only thing I could do was let him go and then try to get back under him, but he was really good up off the corner. As soon as he went by, our car got fairly decent again. We were just too loose to be leading the race."
The top-10 effort - Stewart's 12th of the season - bumped the two-time and reigning Nextel Cup champion up two spots in the series point standings to seventh, 21 points behind sixth-place Mark Martin and 447 markers behind series leader Jimmie Johnson.
"We went up to seventh, so that's somewhat encouraging," said Stewart, who was out of the top-10 in points just three races ago. "Any time you can move up in the points, it's a good thing. This is a race we've looked forward to. We felt like if we had a day like we did today, then we could gain points and hopefully help ourselves out. It worked according to plan."
Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing teammates - Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley - finished 10th and 33rd, respectively. Hamlin's finish was his best Nextel Cup road course finish, his tenth top-10 of the year and his fourth straight. Yeley finished 33rd after suffering a tire problem on the last lap.
Hamlin and Yeley now sit eighth and 27th, respectively, in points. Hamlin dropped one spot in the standings, as did Yeley.
Harvick's win in the AMD at The Glen was the seventh of his Nextel Cup career and his second this season. Finishing behind Stewart in third was Jamie McMurray, while Robby Gordon and Carl Edwards rounded-out the top-five. Boris Said, Scott Pruett, Elliott Sadler, Kyle Busch and Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.