STEWART SCORES 11TH AT DOVER; Home Depot Driver Picks Up 22 Spots in 400-Mile Race Tony Stewart had a relatively uneventful 400-mile Sunday drive at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs...
STEWART SCORES 11TH AT DOVER; Home Depot Driver Picks Up 22 Spots in 400-Mile Race
Tony Stewart had a relatively uneventful 400-mile Sunday drive at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) rallied from his 33rd-place starting spot to finish a respectable 11th in the Camping World RV 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.
"Honestly, once you got past the part about your car sliding around, it was kind of fun the way the track moved around as much as it did," said Stewart, who now has 20 career Sprint Cup starts at the 1-mile oval. "I mean, I felt like that's the most I've ever moved around here at Dover.
"We never could hit the balance spot-on, and when we did, it seemed like we needed more grip. We could get it in the zone, but we couldn't get the grip level that we needed to go with it.
"It was one of those days where we were a little bit off, but I thought the guys had good pit stops all day, I felt like I got in and out of the pits good all day, but I felt like I was the weak link today in the equation. I lost about six or seven spots on restarts picking the wrong lane to go to, but we got all those back. Just where we ended up was about where we deserved to be. That was about as good as we were all day."
Crew chief Greg Zipadelli echoed Stewart's thoughts.
"I don't know that we made it much better at all, really," said Zipadelli of the constant tinkering he did on each and every pit stop the team made during the race. "We put a (spring) rubber in the right rear because we were tight. We did a little bit of wedge. We just did a lot of things, but nothing really was a big improvement. We were close, but we never got it to be where it needed to be. It's a little frustrating. Everybody did a good job, and everybody kept a positive attitude and it could've been a lot worse than 11th.
"Track position was everything. We just never could get there. We could run decent lap times to be up further than that, but we just couldn't get there. We needed everybody to get all spread out and run some laps and we were pretty good. We'll just keep working."
Stewart's JGR teammates -- Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin -- endured far more frustrating days. Busch finished last in the 43-car field with a blown engine and Hamlin finished 38th after heading to the garage area just past the halfway mark of the race to replace his car's driveshaft and rear-end gear.
"For those guys, they can just throw caution to the wind and go for wins now," said Stewart, who endured an equally auspicious start to his Chase aspirations in 2004, the inaugural season of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. "If I were Kyle, I'd go out there and just worry about winning races again. It's been a remarkable, record-setting year for that kid, and the best way to finish it off now is to go out there and win three or four races during the Chase. It's hard to tell him to keep his head up. I mean, there's nobody who's going to make him feel better right now, and rightfully so. The kid has worked hard all year. The team has worked hard all year. They've just had two bad races in a row, and that's what you hope doesn't happen, obviously. You feel for those guys."
Greg Biffle won the Camping World RV 400 to score his 14th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his second at Dover. Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards finished second and third to give Roush Fenway Racing a sweep of the top three spots, while Mark Martin and Jimmie Johnson rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton and Michael Waltrip comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 45 laps, with three drivers failing to finish the three-and-a-half hour race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Busch, who held the point lead for 17 consecutive races before a 34th-place finish last week at New Hampshire dropped him to eighth, fell even further after his disastrous outing at Dover. He is now 12th in points, 210 markers behind series leader Edwards. Hamlin dropped five positions to 11th and is 193 points behind Edwards. Stewart maintained his seventh-place standing and his 113 points arrears Edwards.