TWO-TIRE CALL NETS STEWART SECOND AT BRISTOL Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Rises to Fifth in Points A late-race call for two tires put Tony Stewart in position to win Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor...
TWO-TIRE CALL NETS STEWART SECOND AT BRISTOL
Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Rises to Fifth in Points
A late-race call for two tires put Tony Stewart in position to win Sunday's Food City 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) drove from fourth to first in the race's final 10 laps, but couldn't hold off Jimmie Johnson and wound up second to the four-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion.
"It's a gamble taking two tires, obviously," said Stewart, who qualified 11th and ran in the top-10 throughout the 500-lap race. "Our car was really loose before that last pit stop, so we felt like we were in a position where we could take two (tires). Darian (Grubb, crew chief) made a great chassis adjustment that got the car tight enough for the last 10 laps to at least race the guys that I was on the same tires with. We had to do that to get some track position, and I felt like it was a risk worth taking. We just couldn't hold off Jimmie."
Johnson, who was strong all race long as evidenced by him leading three times for 84 laps, was one of only two drivers who took four tires instead of two. Johnson made his way past Stewart on lap 494, while Kurt Busch, the other driver who opted for four tires, rallied from fifth to third in the final laps, as Stewart was able to hold him off to notch his best finish this season and his first top-five of 2010.
"It was a 10-lap sprint to the end there," said Stewart, who scored his lone victory at Bristol in August 2001. "Jimmie had one of the best cars all day, and we had a good racecar, too. We just never really got off on restarts to get going. That last one was probably one of the best restarts I had all day as far as getting moving and getting momentum and getting locked in. I couldn't make my car wide enough to keep Jimmie behind us. His car was good no matter where he needed to go. Congratulations to Jimmie. I couldn't do anything with him.
"We got us a top-five there and I'm proud of our guys. It's fun when you can get a car to drive well here. It's feast or famine here at Bristol. If your car drives well, it's a fun, great day. If something's wrong or you have a problem and you get in the back, it's a day to forget. Glad we ended up with a good day."
The good day brought Stewart to fifth in the championship standings, a gain of three positions. He now has 685 points and is 89 markers behind series leader Kevin Harvick.
Stewart's SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet, finished 16th. Newman's third straight top-20 result bumped him up three spots to 26th in the standings. He currently has 452 points, 322 arrears Harvick.
Johnson's win in the Food City 500 was his 50th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Bristol. Johnson is now in a three-way tie for 10th on the all-time Sprint Cup win list with Ned Jarrett and Junior Johnson.
Stewart finished .894 of a second behind Johnson, while Kurt Busch, who led 10 times for a race-high 278 laps, finished third. Greg Biffle, Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 103 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the March 28 Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.