Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup series champion Tony Stewart has been eliminated from competing in the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup class. Despite having 14 top-10's and two wins this season, Stewart will just miss the field by finishing 18th at ...
Reigning NASCAR Nextel Cup series champion Tony Stewart has been eliminated from competing in the 2006 Chase for the Nextel Cup class. Despite having 14 top-10's and two wins this season, Stewart will just miss the field by finishing 18th at Richmond International Raceway and falling to 11th in points, just 16 markers out of 10th.
"There were a lot of things that led up to this," explained Stewart. "It wasn't just one night. It was a little bit of things over a few weeks. We just have to look at the next 10 weeks and get back to what we like doing, and that's win races."
Despite Stewart's volatile reputation he was calm and collected when he exited the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet after being eliminated from championship contention. It was the icing on a long weekend of ups-and- downs for Stewart.
He wrecked his primary car in practice on Friday and had to qualify using a back up vehicle. That race car was not dialed in and he started the Chevy Rock and Roll 400 from the 40th starting spot.
Stewart didn't have any particular problems during the race except that his car just couldn't compete. No matter what they threw at Stewart's ride he was beleaguered mid-pack all evening. Mathematically Stewart had to finish seventh or better in Saturday's race to secure his place in the Chase.
"It takes 26 weeks to get to this point," said Stewart. "We just missed tonight. We couldn't get it to turn in the center. All we did was make it loose on exit. I'm still proud of this Home Depot team. They've done a great job. We still have 10 more races to try and go out and win.
"This proves how tough the series is and how tough it is just to make this Chase. It's a big letdown obviously, but at the same time there are 10 guys that earned their way in, too. I just have to wish them good luck now."
With NASCAR's Chase rules no matter how many races Stewart may or may not win in the final ten events, he cannot finish any better than 11th.