Stewart wins final shootout in Texas

Stewart wins final shootout in Texas
Nov 7, 2006, 6:51 PM

To say Tony Stewart dominated the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway would be an understatement. He led 278 of 339 laps and at times had a five-second advantage over the field. Only two cars challenged him all afternoon, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie ...

To say Tony Stewart dominated the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway would be an understatement. He led 278 of 339 laps and at times had a five-second advantage over the field.

Only two cars challenged him all afternoon, Kasey Kahne and Jimmie Johnson, but in the end no one could muscle Stewart from posting his second consecutive win, his fifth victory this year (the third since the Chase began). As is customary for Stewart, he climbed out of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Chevy, scaled the fence, and captured the checkered flag from the flagman.

"It was an awesome day, any time you can lead that many laps, and that many percentage of laps, it's an awesome day. I've been racing for 27 years and I can count on two hands the amount of times I've had a car as good as this one. It's an honor to drive a car that nice. You really feel fortunate to have days like today."

No matter how many wins reigning Nextel Cup champion Stewart amasses he cannot finish better than 11th in points due to the Chase format top-ten cut off.

Johnson was happy to pull out a second place result and grab the lead in Chase point standings, "It's great. We just want to keep working, running hard, performing and scoring points."

Kevin Harvick was third, "It was a good day for us. We fought our car all day long trying to make it better. We got track position there and wound up making something out of what we needed to this time of year. So, we just kept fighting and did what we have to do."

Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer complete the top five.

"We made the decision there late to put four tires on it and it was a good one," explained Bowyer. "It was without a doubt what got us where we ended up."

A wet blanket was thrown over the third to last Chase race at Texas Motor Speedway.

Spotty morning rain showers gave way to relentless afternoon storms which delayed the green flag in the Dickies 500. NASCAR moved up the start time of the event 11 minutes but the heavy rain that had been forecasted to start later in the afternoon started to flow well before 10:00 am.

After drying efforts readied the track the flag finally dropped just past 3:40 pm EST with Brian Vickers on the pole. NASCAR started the race under a green/yellow condition to make sure the track surface was suitable to race on. A green/yellow is basically counting laps while the cars run under caution, under that condition the cars are not allowed to vie for track position.

Five laps later, the official green flag waved. Kurt Busch came from third to the front to lead the first "real" lap. The first 41 laps ran green, 36 of them led by Busch. NASCAR threw a competition caution which brought the leaders to pit road for service.

Stewart beat Busch out of the pits on the restart at lap 45. The No. 20 Chevy was still out front when the third caution fell on lap 89 when Chaser Jeff Burton cut a tire.

After service stops, Stewart continued to lead on the restart on lap 94. He quickly jumped out to a two second advantage on the field. By lap 127 that lead had extended to five seconds.

It was closed back up on lap 135 when the fourth caution waved for debris. The leaders pitted with the No. 20 Chevy getting out first to stay in the top spot. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. caused the fifth caution when he smacked the wall on lap 166.

A lightning quick pit stop allowed Stewart to keep the lead when the field went back to green on lap 170. It didn't stay green for long, a multi-car accident on lap 173 involving Mark Martin, Sterling Marlin, Ken Schrader and Dave Blaney, slowed the field for the sixth time.

The No. 20 Chevy continued to lead on the lap 179 restart but the cautions kept coming.

Robby Gordon caused yellow number seven when he spun and hit the wall on lap 180. The top-21 cars stayed out, with the No. 20 Chevy at the front of the train.

Paul Menard blew-up on lap 195 bringing out the eighth caution; Jamie McMurray did not pit and led on the restart but it didn't take Stewart long to get by the No. 26 Ford.

Reed Sorenson spun and slid across the track on lap 232 while running in the top ten for the ninth caution. All the leaders pitted with Stewart winning the race off pit road.

The 10th caution fell on lap 180, but Stewart once again beat everyone out of the pits to retain the top position. On lap 266, Kahne began to challenge Stewart for the lead, the first car of the day to be anywhere near Stewart's bumper under green.

With 19 to go, as Kahne slipped back Johnson closed the gap and began to put pressure on Stewart for the lead. A few laps later, Stewart, Johnson and several other leaders were forced to pit under green for fuel shuffling the field with 15 to go.

When the dust settled Stewart was still No. 1 with a four second lead. His charge was slowed with eight to go when Greg Biffle slapped the wall causing the 11th yellow. It was not what Stewart wanted to see. The race restarted with four to go, with Johnson, on four fresh tires, on the hunt for the lead; a wreck with three laps left involving Scott Riggs set up a green/white/checker finish and Johnson's last chance to pounce on Stewart.

With two laps to settle the Dickies 500, Johnson tried to pass low then high on Stewart but just couldn't make the pass allowing Stewart to earn his 29th career Cup series victory.

Jimmie Johnson goes to the top of the 2006 Chase class. Matt Kenseth (-17), Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-78), Denny Hamlin (-80), Kevin Harvick (-105), Jeff Gordon (-157), Jeff Burton (-184), Kyle Busch (-233), Mark Martin (-253) and Kasey Kahne (-290) complete the top ten.

There were 12 cautions for 51 laps and 23 lead changes among 13 drivers.

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