RUNNER-UP RESULT AT RICHMOND RUNS STEWART INTO CHASE Fourth Second-Place Finish of Season Earns Stewart Fourth Chase Berth Tony Stewart engaged Jimmie Johnson in a spirited duel for the victory in Sunday's rain-postponed Chevy Rock & Roll 400...
RUNNER-UP RESULT AT RICHMOND RUNS STEWART INTO CHASE
Fourth Second-Place Finish of Season Earns Stewart Fourth Chase Berth
Tony Stewart engaged Jimmie Johnson in a spirited duel for the victory in Sunday's rain-postponed Chevy Rock & Roll 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.
But after leading four times for 23 laps, including laps 390-391 of the 400-lap race, Stewart could not hold off Johnson for the win. The driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) relinquished the lead to Johnson on lap 392 and despite battling door-to-door for the next handful of laps, Johnson beat Stewart to the line by .365 of a second.
"We just couldn't get by him (Johnson)," said Stewart, who now has four second-place finishes in the 26 Sprint Cup races run thus far in 2008. "We did everything we could. We raced him clean. We raced him the way he would've raced us. I wanted to race him with respect -- the way he would me -- and we just came up short.
"Obviously, we had a great car. It was a little bit of a guessing game -- going between running a night race and a day race -- but we actually made our car better all day long. Last week (at California), we got to the last two runs of the night and just totally lost the handle on it. So, I was real impressed with our guys and how they were able to rebound from last week."
Stewart's eighth top-five finish in 20 career Sprint Cup starts at Richmond earned him a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup -- the fourth time in five years that Stewart has made the cut for the 12-driver, 10-race championship run.
Stewart's JGR teammates -- Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch -- finished third and 15th, respectively, in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400.
Jimmie Johnson won the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 to score his 37th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his third at Richmond. Stewart, Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Mark Martin rounded out the top-five. Jeff Burton, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann and Kurt Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 14 caution periods for 71 laps, with all 43 drivers able to finish the 400-lap race.
Richmond marked the last race of the regular season, as the Chase for the Sprint Cup is now on. Representing JGR in this year's Chase will be Busch, Stewart and Hamlin -- the first time JGR has placed all three of its teams in the Chase. While Stewart makes his fourth Chase appearance, Busch and Hamlin will make their third. Stewart won the Chase in 2005 -- the second year of the format -- to collect his second Sprint Cup championship. (Stewart's first championship came in 2002 under the old NASCAR Winston Cup Series format.) Busch finished 10th in his Chase debut in 2006 and fifth last year. Hamlin finished third in his Chase debut in 2006 and 12th last year.