Texas: Tony Stewart race report

Tumultuous Texas weekend for Home Depot team. FORT WORTH, Texas (March 30, 2003) - A race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway that began on a sour note ended just as bitterly for NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Tony Stewart and his Home Depot...

Tumultuous Texas weekend for Home Depot team.

FORT WORTH, Texas (March 30, 2003) - A race weekend at Texas Motor Speedway that began on a sour note ended just as bitterly for NASCAR Winston Cup Series driver Tony Stewart and his Home Depot Racing Team.

After losing their primary race car on Friday when NASCAR officials impounded it for the body not conforming to the series' mandated templates, the team experienced an engine failure in their backup #20 Home Depot Chevrolet on lap 293 of the 334-lap Samsung/RadioShack 500.

It was the team's second consecutive DNF (Did Not Finish), and the resulting 34th place finish dropped Stewart from third to seventh in the championship point standings, 241 markers behind series leader Matt Kenseth.

"All I can do is ask the guys on this team to work as hard as they did this weekend," said crew chief Greg Zipadelli. "They never gave up. They never quit. It's just a shame. Our motor department has been working really hard and they've been building some great motors. I can't really get down on them because these things are going to happen. Hopefully it's just a one-off deal and we'll get back to racing next weekend at Talladega (Ala.)."

Prior to the loss of power, Stewart was on track for a respectable finish. He was solidly in the 11th spot, with a Home Depot Chevrolet that was the best it had been from the drop of the green flag. A fifth top-10 finish in the seven races run thus far in 2003 was not out of the question, as Stewart was gaining on then 10th place Kurt Busch.

It was an impressive run, with Stewart having come from 22nd on the grid to ninth following an excellent pit stop while under caution on lap 157. Stewart rose to as high as seventh by lap 181, trading the spot back and forth with Mark Martin during the next 20 laps.

An aero push that seemed to affect almost all of the competitors made Stewart's #20 machine fade from that seventh spot, as lapped traffic toyed with the aerodynamics of The Home Depot Chevrolet. After falling to as low as 13th following a restart on lap 249, Stewart set his sights on re-entering the top-10. Another great pit stop on lap 285 - again under caution - gained Stewart two spots to restart in 11th on lap 288. But it was all for naught, for five laps later, the day was over.

At the other end of the racing spectrum was Ryan Newman, who won his second career Winston Cup race by taking the checkered flag in the Samsung/RadioShack 500. After a spirited battle with Dale Earnhardt Jr., 20 laps from the finish, Newman finally passed Earnhardt with 12 to go, finishing with a 3.405-second margin of victory. Earnhardt managed to hold off a strong challenge by Jeff Gordon for second, while Jerry Nadeau and Martin rounded out the top-five.

The next event on the Winston Cup schedule is the April 6 Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. Live coverage by FOX begins at 1 p.m. EDT.

-jgr/hdr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Jeff Gordon , Tony Stewart , Jerry Nadeau , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Mark Martin