Stewart snares third straight top-five finish fourth-place effort at Kansas brings him to eighth in points KANSAS CITY, Kan., (Oct. 5, 2003) - In a workmanlike performance, Tony Stewart drove his ...
Stewart snares third straight top-five finish fourth-place effort at Kansas brings him to eighth in points
KANSAS CITY, Kan., (Oct. 5, 2003) - In a workmanlike performance, Tony Stewart drove his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet to a strong fourth-place finish in Sunday's Banquet 400 at Kansas Speedway, notching his third top-five finish in as many weeks. The effort brought Stewart up to eighth in points, his highest point position since being seventh following the Martinsville (Va.) race in April.
The 267-lap race on the 1.5-mile D-shaped oval turned into a typical battle of track position and fuel mileage, with Stewart needing all 400 miles to get from his 14th place starting spot to fourth.
"It was a pretty good day for The Home Depot Monte Carlo," said Stewart. "We got decent track position, but we never got good track position. This was a pretty good run considering that from about eighth or 10th back, I couldn't do anything. Fun parade in Kansas today."
It wasn't until a lap 202 pit stop for fuel only where Stewart was able to crack the top-five and get into clean air. Prior to that, Stewart was mired deep in the top-10. Due to an aero push, his orange and black #20 was simply too tight through the corners to make any kind of gain on those ahead of him. But when Michael Waltrip spun into the turn four wall on lap 201, it provided the necessary caution needed for the #20 team to make their fuel only stop.
"It was amazing how good the car drove once we got in the top-five and we could get some relatively clean air," said Stewart. "I'm pretty happy for this race team. We had good pit stops all day, and that got us the track position we needed."
Ryan Newman won yet another race on fuel mileage, taking his series leading seventh victory of the season.
"A guy wins it on fuel mileage again," said a chagrined Stewart. "We drove away from Ryan Newman all day, so track position means everything, and his win just proves it. But we have a lot to be proud of, because we had one of the best cars today. I hate to say anything bad about these fuel mileage races, but some guys would rather win than finish fourth."
Crossing the stripe in second was veteran Bill Elliott, with his Evernham Motorsports teammate Jeremy Mayfield taking third. Following Stewart in fifth was two-time Kansas race winner Jeff Gordon.
In the race for the 2003 NASCAR Winston Cup Series championship, Matt Kenseth's dominating lead was whittled away for the second straight week. After suffering his first DNF (Did Not Finish) of the season last week at Talladega (Ala.) which resulted in a 33rd place finish, Kenseth was caught up in Waltrip's first crash of the day on lap 70. Kenseth spun through the backstretch grass and nosed hard into the inside retaining wall. After many laps spent in the garage area for repairs, Kenseth returned to the track. He finished 36th, 47 laps off the pace.
Second-place Kevin Harvick, who was 436 points back following the Dover (Del.) race three weeks ago, is now 259 points back, a gain of 177 points.
Stewart, solidly in eighth, is only 29 points down to seventh-place Bobby Labonte - his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate - while a 41-point cushion separates Stewart from ninth-place Kurt Busch.
Only six races remain, with the next event on the Winston Cup schedule being the Oct. 11 UAW-GM Quality 500 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway. Live coverage by NBC begins at 7:20 p.m. EDT.