STEWART SURVIVES TALLADEGA Old Spice/Office Depot Driver Finishes 16th in Crash-Marred Race It was far from an official win, but in a garage area surrounded by damaged racecars from a crash-marred Aaron's 499, Tony Stewart's 16th-place finish in...
STEWART SURVIVES TALLADEGA
Old Spice/Office Depot Driver Finishes 16th in Crash-Marred Race
It was far from an official win, but in a garage area surrounded by damaged racecars from a crash-marred Aaron's 499, Tony Stewart's 16th-place finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway was a victory, nonetheless. Crew chief Darian Grubb said it best: "We survived Talladega."
In a race that saw eight caution periods for 32 laps -- four of which came in the race's last 24 laps -- survival was the name of the game. Yet, Stewart's No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot "Matterhorn" Chevrolet still showed some game as it led one lap early in the 200-lap event and was a part of a handful of charges to the front, the last of which put him second on lap 180 thanks to some helpful pushing from Dale Earnhardt Jr.
But when three separate multi-car accidents conspired to force the race deep into overtime, as the maximum three attempts were made at a green-white-checker finish, the constant restarts kept dropping Stewart further down the running order. His car, which sported a special paint scheme promoting the "Matterhorn" scent from the Old Spice Fresh Collection, needed momentum to keep it moving toward the front. It was as if the car needed to get wound up before it could get going, and each time the yellow caution flag waved, that momentum was lost. It all resulted in a 16th-place finish.
"Not what we were looking for, by any means," said Stewart, who started 13th after Saturday's qualifying session was rained out and the field was set by car owner points. "But we've also left here a lot worse. So, I guess we'll take what we can and go on to Richmond."
Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation/Office Depot Chevrolet, finished a disappointing 35th after being involved in the second-to-last multi-car accident of the event.
Kevin Harvick won the Aaron's 499 to score his 12th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Talladega.
Jamie McMurray finished .011 of a second behind Harvick, while Juan Pablo Montoya, Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin rounded out the top-five. David Ragan, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Mike Bliss comprised the remainder of the top-10.
Thirteen drivers failed to finish the 200-lap race, which was extended 12 laps past the scheduled distance due to three attempts at a green-white-checker finish. It made Sunday's race the longest in Talladega history at 532 miles, and it set an all-time NASCAR record for leaders (29) and lead changes (88).
With round nine of 36 complete, Stewart is 14th in the Sprint Cup championship standings. He fell from a tie for 12th and now has 1,061 points. He is 262 markers behind series leader Jimmie Johnson. Newman lost two positions to fall to 18th in the standings. He has 995 points and is 328 points back of Johnson.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the May 1 Crown Royal 400 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway.