Texas: Tony Stewart race report

Hard-Fought Eighth for Stewart in Texas FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 2004) - Tony Stewart finished a strong eighth in Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was the fourth top-10 finish of...

Hard-Fought Eighth for Stewart in Texas

FORT WORTH, Texas (April 4, 2004) - Tony Stewart finished a strong eighth in Sunday's Samsung/RadioShack 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. It was the fourth top-10 finish of the season for the driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet, and it was especially well-earned, with Stewart overcoming his 17th place starting spot despite driving an ill-handling race car.

"That was one of the hardest eighth-place finishes I've ever had to work for," said Stewart. "We went from being really tight too being way too loose, and we just kept going back and forth like that all day. It wasn't a good day by any means, but we made the best of it."

On each and every pit stop crew chief Greg Zipadelli tinkered with the #20's chassis. Spring rubbers were removed from the left rear of the car while spring rubbers were inserted into the right rear. Air pressure, wedge and track bar adjustments were also prevalent, but none of the adjustments seem to cure the car's handling woes despite eight pit stops during the course of the 334-lap race.

"For some reason we were way too tight, and whatever we did to try to fix it would hurt us on the front side of a run with it being too loose," said Zipadelli. "We'd give up so much time and then it would just get tight again. It was such a swing, and I really don't know why. We obviously never hit on a solution. We surely need to test and come out here and work on some things for next year to prevent that. We have not really run well at this place, for some reason. We had one good run one year (2002, led 15 laps and finished fifth) and that was it.

"But everybody did a good job today. We haven't had some good runs in the last couple of weeks because I didn't think we worked as hard as we needed to together. Today was a good test for us. We'll take it and build with it and go on to Martinsville (Va.) - a place where we do run fairly well. We'll just continue to work hard there."

The Home Depot Racing Team's fortitude maintained their fourth-place position in the championship point standings. With seven races down on the series' 36-race schedule, Stewart is 86 points behind new point leader Kurt Busch. Defending series champion Matt Kenseth dropped to second via his 16th place result, 19 point arrears Busch. Dale Earnhardt Jr. stayed put in third, 35 markers behind Busch, with a 51-point margin between himself and Stewart.

Jumping from ninth to fifth in points was Elliott Sadler, who earned his second career Nextel Cup victory by winning the Samsung/RadioShack 500. He narrowly edged rookie sensation Kasey Kahne, crossing the stripe just .028 seconds ahead of the rookie of the year point leader. Finishing third was Jeff Gordon, while Earnhardt and Rusty Wallace rounded-out the top-five.

The Nextel Cup Series takes a weekend off in observance of Easter before heading to Martinsville Speedway for the Advance Auto Parts 500 on April 18. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

-jgr/hd-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt , Jeff Gordon , Matt Kenseth , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Kurt Busch , Kasey Kahne , Elliott Sadler