STEWART FIGHTS LOOSE-HANDLING RACE CAR AT FONTANA Tony Stewart struggled with a loose-handling race car and finished a disappointing 22nd in Sunday night's Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana,...
STEWART FIGHTS LOOSE-HANDLING RACE CAR AT FONTANA
Tony Stewart struggled with a loose-handling race car and finished a disappointing 22nd in Sunday night's Pepsi 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Subway/Home Depot Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) started 14th and hung inside the top-15 for the first 200 laps of the 250-lap event, despite battling a race car that was loose going into and coming off the wide sweeping corners of the 2-mile oval.
While veteran crew chief Greg Zipadelli threw a multitude of changes at Stewart's car throughout the night to fix the loose condition, nothing, including wedge, track bar, and air pressure adjustments seemed to remedy the problem. While the car's handling was getting better by a pit stop on lap 147, the loose condition worsened from there and Stewart dropped 12 positions throughout the final 100 laps.
"It was just a tough night," said Stewart, who made his 15th career Sprint Cup start at the 2-mile oval. "We just couldn't get the car to tighten up. About halfway through the race the balance was getting better, but it just went away over the last two runs and that was it."
Stewart dropped from sixth to eighth in Sprint Cup Series point-standings, but has a 138-point cushion between himself and 13th-place David Ragan-- the first driver on the outside looking in of the 12-driver Chase for the Championship -- with only one race remaining before the Chase field is set.
Stewart's Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch -- finished third and seventh, respectively, in the Pepsi 500.
Busch remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race. He continues to be the series' point leader, but his lead has been trimmed to 208 markers over second-place Carl Edwards. Hamlin maintained his 11th-place position in points and sits 690 points arrears Busch. Stewart is 645 points behind Busch.