PHOENIX FALLING Stewart Gets Collected in Late-Race Accidents and Finishes 22nd at Phoenix Tony Stewart went from running in the top-10 with 50 laps to go in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix ...
Stewart Gets Collected in Late-Race Accidents and Finishes 22nd at Phoenix
Tony Stewart went from running in the top-10 with 50 laps to go in Sunday's Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Phoenix International Raceway to finishing 22nd.
The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) was collected in two late-race accidents that both involved A.J. Allmendinger and Matt Kenseth.
The first incident came on lap 307 when Allmendinger dove low into turn one beneath Kenseth while Stewart was on the outside of Kenseth. Three-wide doesn't work at Phoenix, as Allmendinger's Dodge touched Kenseth's Ford which then slid into Stewart's Toyota. Allmendinger motored on while Kenseth and Stewart spun, losing numerous positions.
Stewart restarted the race in 23rd as the last car one lap down when racing resumed on lap 312. The two-lap shootout to the finish, as the race was extended one lap past its scheduled 312-lap distance via a green-white-checkered finish, ended with another multi-car crash as the field crossed the stripe. It was triggered when Kenseth and Allmendinger again made contact as they came off turn four, with Allmendinger spinning into the inside wall that lines the frontstretch.
The rest of the field stacked up behind the melee as the checkered flag waved, with Stewart getting pin-balled among the cars around him. Stewart finished the race in 22nd, but his car could go no further than turn one, as its battered front end prohibited it from being driven any further.
Stewart was unhurt in the accident, and he took the requisite ride in the track ambulance for the mandatory evaluation in the infield care center.
There, Stewart gave a quick summary of his result in the penultimate race of the 2008 Sprint Cup season.
"Whatever could go wrong there at the end, did," said Stewart, who came into Phoenix with eight top-10 finishes in his 13 previous Sprint Cup races at the 1-mile oval, including a win in November 1999. "We went from running in the top-10 to getting wrecked -- twice."
Stewart's JGR teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch -- finished fifth and eighth, respectively, in the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k.
Jimmie Johnson won the Checker O'Reilly Auto Parts 500k to score his 40th career Sprint Cup victory, his seventh of the season and his third straight at Phoenix. Finishing .295 of a second behind Johnson was Kurt Busch, while Jamie McMurray, Carl Edwards and Hamlin rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and David Ragan comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 10 caution periods for 55 laps, with eight drivers failing to finish the race.
All three JGR drivers are represented in this year's Chase for the Sprint Cup. Hamlin now leads the JGR trio in points, as he picked up three spots to rise to ninth in points, 471 markers arrears series leader Johnson. Busch and Stewart dropped to 11th and 12th, respectively. Busch is 481 points out of first and Stewart is 502 points down to Johnson.