STEWART SECOND IN ATLANTA 500 FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR Home Depot Driver Follows Teammate to Checkered, Giving JGR 1-2 Finish Tony Stewart didn't like the tire he raced on or the feel of his race car, but he liked the second-place finish he ...
STEWART SECOND IN ATLANTA 500 FOR SECOND STRAIGHT YEAR
Home Depot Driver Follows Teammate to Checkered, Giving JGR 1-2 Finish
Tony Stewart didn't like the tire he raced on or the feel of his race car, but he liked the second-place finish he earned in Sunday's Atlanta 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) struggled all weekend long getting comfortable with the handling of his race car. Diving into the track's corners at nearly 190 mph proved to be a nerve-wracking experience, for the hard tire compound brought to Atlanta by Goodyear made Stewart's car loose on entry and exit, but tight in the middle of the corners.
"That was the worst tire I've ever been on in my life in any professional form of racing," stated Stewart bluntly. "It was just sliding around. They were loose in and loose off. Tight in the center. Just every aspect of the car that you were asking the car to do, it wouldn't do because the tires couldn't take it. They built such a hard tire -- it was terrible."
Crew chief Greg Zipadelli worked tirelessly on Friday, Saturday and throughout Sunday's 325-lap affair to find a setup suited to Stewart's liking. While none of the changes Zipadelli threw at the car's chassis made a singular, dramatic improvement, collectively, they allowed Stewart to climb from his 32nd-place starting spot to second, the same result Stewart earned at this race last year.
"I'm really proud of our team, proud of Home Depot and really proud of the guys on our pit crew who had great pit stops today," Stewart said. "This team never quits. It doesn't matter how bad it is, we just never give up."
Stewart's second-place finish was his 12th top-10 finish in 19 races at Atlanta and his third top-10 finish in the four races held thus far in 2008. The effort brought Stewart up three spots to ninth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 140 points behind his JGR teammate Kyle Busch, who leads the championship point race by 73 markers over second-place Greg Biffle.