Lost Opportunity Early Crash Puts Stewart Out of All-Star Race and Takes Car Out of Coke 600 CONCORD, N.C., (May 21, 2005) - Just 35 laps into Saturday night's 90-lap NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Charlotte, Tony Stewart was out of the...
Early Crash Puts Stewart Out of All-Star Race and Takes Car Out of Coke 600
CONCORD, N.C., (May 21, 2005) - Just 35 laps into Saturday night's 90-lap NASCAR NEXTEL All-Star Challenge at Charlotte, Tony Stewart was out of the special non-points event. A 10-car crash in the dogleg of the track's 1.5-mile oval collected Stewart, severely damaging his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet.
The #20 car, sporting a Madagascar-themed movie paint scheme, was a crumpled mess that was beyond repair. Stewart, unhurt but unhappy, managed to drive The Home Depot Chevrolet back to the garage area, and with steam pouring from beneath the hood, his night was officially over.
"I don't know what happened," said Stewart. "I came off (turn) four, got straight there and somehow got into the back of the '01' (Joe Nemechek). I didn't speed up. I don't know if he got loose or something or what. I wasn't even going for the position. I don't understand how we wrecked. It's not like we had a run coming off the corner or anything like that. We were running the exact same speed he was at that part of the track, and for something like that to happen doesn't make a lot of sense.
"It's a shame. This is the car I wanted to bring back next week, but it doesn't look like we'll be doing that."
While the All-Star race provides a shot at a $1 million payday, it also provides drivers and crews with a test session for next Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 - a point-paying race that is also the longest race on the Nextel Cup schedule. But not only did Stewart and Co. not get the track time they were expecting, the car they were expecting to use in the Coke 600 also went away.
The upside to the night was that no points were lost, for the exhibition race is essentially a dash for cash.
Divided into three segments, the 90-lap affair began with a 40-lap segment that required teams to make a four-tire green flag pit stop between laps 14 and 16. A 10-minute break followed, allowing teams to work on their cars before beginning the second, 30-lap segment. A yellow flag caution period gave teams another opportunity to change tires and make quick adjustments, but the changes had to occur in real time, as positions could be won or lost on pit road. The final segment was a 20-lap dash to the checkered.
Stewart's early leave from the first segment left him with a 17th place result overall. Winning the first segment was Mark Martin, who escaped the lap 35 melee. Ryan Newman took the second segment, but it was Martin who came back to win the final segment, scoring a popular victory as this season marks his last as a full-time Nextel Cup driver.
Elliott Sadler was a distant second in the final rundown, while the Hendrick Motorsports trio of Brian Vickers, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson rounded-out the top-five.
The Coca-Cola 600 is set for May 29 at Charlotte. Live coverage begins at 5:30 p.m. EDT on FOX.