Stewart's Title Run Continues at Texas Sixth-Place Finish Keeps Point Lead Intact With Two Races Remaining FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 6, 2005) - Tony Stewart served up another strong run in Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at...
Stewart's Title Run Continues at Texas
Sixth-Place Finish Keeps Point Lead Intact With Two Races Remaining
FORT WORTH, Texas (Nov. 6, 2005) - Tony Stewart served up another strong run in Sunday's Dickies 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway, leading three times for 15 laps and finishing sixth to continue his lead in the championship point standings. The driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet for Joe Gibbs Racing has a 38-point margin over nearest pursuer Jimmie Johnson with only two races remaining on the 36-race schedule.
"We didn't have the best car tonight, but it was still a good night because it's the best we've run here at Texas," said Stewart after 334 laps around the 1.5-mile oval. "We started 16th and got ourselves up in the top-five. We drove up to second and got behind Matt (Kenseth). We wanted to lead and he knew that. He raced us hard and never cut us any slack. He was one step away from wrecking himself. He was sideways and all that. It just shows how important five points are right now. But we led a lap at the end of a pit sequence (lap 148)."
"It seemed like once the sun went down, we were just a little bit too free," continued Stewart. "It was loose back to the gas. But Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli) and the guys were awesome. They made some great chassis adjustments during our pit stops. We didn't want to go too far, so we kept sneaking up on it and finally got it where the car was pretty good at the end."
Thanks to the handling tweaks made to The Home Depot Chevrolet, Stewart was a solid fourth on lap 290 when the caution flag waved for Greg Biffle's spin in turn four. On the ensuing pit stop, more changes were made, and with a lightning-quick four-tire stop, Stewart didn't have to pick off those ahead of him. His crew did it for him.
Stewart roared off pit road before anyone else, taking the lead for the second time. When the green flag dropped on lap 296, Stewart pulled out a half-second lead, but second-place Mark Martin slowly reeled Stewart in, passing The Home Depot pilot on lap 307.
Stewart came right back, passing Martin for the point the very next lap in turn one. But as Martin tried to hold his position, the two drivers rubbed sheet metal, with Stewart's right front fender getting bent just enough to throw off the car's aerodynamic balance.
"I gave him as much room as I could," said Stewart in regard to Martin. "I was clear up against the wall. I knew I couldn't beat him, but I wasn't going to give up any more time than I had to. We were just doing the superspeedway stuff - the closer you get to a guy the more draft you get out of him and this time it got us a little bit. I don't know how much it hurt the car, but it just made my car a little bit tighter after that.
"Mark didn't mean to do it. He was a man and came over and said he made a mistake. That's why I respect Mark more than anybody in this series. It hurt our car when it happened, but at least he came down and talked to me about it. I have no issues with him. I probably have more respect for him now before I came in here tonight.
"There wasn't much we could do," added Stewart. "I think we were going to be good enough for a top-five if we didn't get the fender pushed in. But either way we ended up with a sixth-place finish and didn't hurt ourselves too much today."
Stewart came into Texas with a 43-point lead over Johnson, and with Johnson finishing just ahead of Stewart in fifth while also garnering five bonus points for leading a lap, Stewart only lost five points.
Carl Edwards won the Dickies 500 to score his fourth career Nextel Cup victory and his second in a row. Martin finished second, while Kenseth, Casey Mears and Johnson rounded-out the rest of the top-five. Comprising the remainder of the top-10 were Stewart, his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Elliott Sadler and Kurt Busch.
Live coverage of next week's Checker Auto Parts 500k begins at 3 p.m. EST on NBC.