SPEEDY STEWART PENALIZED FOR SPEEDING AT CHARLOTTE Home Depot Driver Rallies to Finish 11th in Bank of America 500 Tony Stewart led four times for 42 laps in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.)...
SPEEDY STEWART PENALIZED FOR SPEEDING AT CHARLOTTE
Home Depot Driver Rallies to Finish 11th in Bank of America 500
Tony Stewart led four times for 42 laps in Saturday night's Bank of America 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway and appeared ready to post his second consecutive victory. The winner of last Sunday's 500-mile race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway had a good car, but changing track conditions and a pit road speeding penalty served on lap 260 thwarted the effort, leaving Stewart 11th when the checkered flag dropped.
"Sorry guys, you deserve better than that," said Stewart over the radio. "I just couldn't get stopped."
Running sixth when a series of green flag pit stops took place, Stewart locked up the left-front wheel of his No. 20 Home Depot Toyota as he came off the track and onto pit road as he tried to abide by the 45 mph speed limit. It didn't happen, and NASCAR assessed a drive-thru penalty on the following lap, meaning Stewart had to return to pit road and drive at 45 mph while his counterparts sailed around the 1.5-mile oval at full song.
Stewart ended up going a lap down, as did his Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammate Kyle Busch, who was tagged with the same penalty on the same green flag pit stop.
A fortuitous caution came on lap 265, which allowed Stewart and Busch to line up on the inside row during the ensuing restart. Both were able to pass leader Greg Biffle and earn their laps back, and then hold their positions out front when the caution flag waved again on lap 297. That allowed Stewart and Busch to rejoin the tail end of the lead lap and attempt to rally their way back into contention.
Busch found more success than Stewart, as he wound up fourth while Stewart came home in 11th.
"It was an up and down night," said Stewart's crew chief Greg Zipadelli. "We finished 11th and I think we had a much better race car than that. We got loose there early in the race -- about a third of the way in. We got it pretty good, but we got caught speeding on pit road and got a lap down under green. We had to battle back and those last 30 laps everybody is up on the wheel. It's pretty hard to make any ground up there at the very end. Everybody did a good job, but it's a shame because I think we had a car capable of winning here in the spring and once again here today, but we didn't close the deal. We'll go to Martinsville and see what we can do."
Stewart's other JGR teammate, Denny Hamlin, finished 16th.
Jeff Burton won the Bank of America 500 to score his 21st career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his third at Charlotte. Kasey Kahne finished 0.946 of a second behind Burton in the runner-up spot, with Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray rounding out the top-five. Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 334-lap race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart continues to lead the JGR trio in points, as he maintained his seventh-place position in the standings, where he is now 228 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Busch gained two positions and is now ninth in the standings, 326 points out of the lead. Hamlin remained 12th in points and is 380 markers behind Johnson.
With five races remaining before a champion is crowned following the season-finale Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Oct. 19 Tums QuickPak 500 at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The race begins at 1:30 p.m. EDT with live, high-definition coverage provided by ABC beginning with its pre-race show at 1 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.