LATE ACCIDENT ENDS STEWART'S PROMISING DAY AT TEXAS Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Leads 74 Laps, but Finishes Disappointing 32nd A day that began with a lot of promise and a start from the pole ended with a wrecked Office Depot/Old Spice...
LATE ACCIDENT ENDS STEWART'S PROMISING DAY AT TEXAS
Office Depot/Old Spice Driver Leads 74 Laps, but Finishes Disappointing 32nd
A day that began with a lot of promise and a start from the pole ended with a wrecked Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet Impala and a disappointing 32nd-place finish for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) driver/owner Tony Stewart.
The Columbus, Ind., native led five times for 74 laps in Monday's rain-postponed Samsung Mobile 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, but Stewart's 400th career Sprint Cup start ended badly when he was involved in a late-race multi-car accident that left him with his first DNF (Did Not Finish) of 2010.
Stewart, who started from the pole and led the race's first 15 laps, was in sixth place on lap 312 of the 334-lap race when a caution came out for David Reutimann's blown engine. When the lead lap cars pitted one lap later, Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb elected to take only two tires along with the teams of Jeff Burton, Denny Hamlin, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth elected to take four tires, which put them behind the six drivers who opted only for right-side tires.
The race restarted on lap 317 with Burton leading, Stewart in second and Hamlin in third. Stewart fell back slightly and as he entered turn four, he and four-time Sprint Cup champion Jeff Gordon, who had restarted eighth, made contact and set off a wild, nine-car accident on the frontstretch. In addition to Stewart and Gordon, the wreck collected Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Juan Pablo Montoya, A.J. Allmendinger, Paul Menard and Carl Edwards.
The No. 14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet suffered heavy damage all the way around and was unable to continue, forcing Stewart to take his only finish outside the top-30 this season.
The two-time Sprint Cup champion was checked and released from the Texas Motor Speedway infield medical center without injury.
"I came off of (turn) four there and bounced off of Jeff's (Gordon) right rear," Stewart said. "It was just a pendulum and I lost it and got into his right rear, and then I got us to where neither one of us could get away from it. Somebody put me three-wide in (turns) one and two and that got me up to where I got a lot of junk on my tires and that started it. It was my fault. I feel bad about it, about doing something stupid like that. I didn't plan on getting loose, but it is 100 percent my fault."
Following the accident, Stewart and Gordon spoke to each other after exiting their damaged racecars.
"I think he (Gordon) was worried that I was going to be upset about it on his side," Stewart said. "It wasn't his fault, obviously. I got a chance to see it in the infield care center, it is definitely my fault. I apologize to all the teams and drivers that got caught up and their fans for it. We had a really good car there and just a shame that it happened."
Hamlin won the Samsung Mobile 500 to score his 10th career Sprint Cup victory, his second of the season and his first at Texas. Four-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion Johnson finished .152 of a second behind Hamlin, while Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne rounded out the top-five. Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Earnhardt Jr., Martin Truex Jr., and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10. Ryan Newman, Stewart's teammate at SHR, finished 11th.
There were seven caution periods for 32 laps, with 14 drivers failing to finish the 501-mile race.
With round eight of 36 complete, Stewart and Joey Logano are tied for 12th in the Sprint Cup championship standings. Stewart fell four spots and now has 941 points, 307 markers behind series leader Johnson. Newman remained 16th in the standings. He has 932 points and is 316 points back of Johnson.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the April 25 Aaron's 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.