STEWART WINS FIRST RACE IN GRAND PRIX RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 13, 1999) -- Home Depot Pontiac driver Tony Stewart put the exclamation mark on a wondrous rookie season, dominating Saturday night's Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 for his first ...
STEWART WINS FIRST RACE IN GRAND PRIX
RICHMOND, Va. (Sept. 13, 1999) -- Home Depot Pontiac driver Tony Stewart put the exclamation mark on a wondrous rookie season, dominating Saturday night's Exide NASCAR Select Batteries 400 for his first career victory.
Stewart did so in dominating fashion, leading 333 of the 400 laps. He dueled with Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Bobby Labonte for the checkers over the final laps, masterfully negotiating the tough, .750-mile oval. Stewart and Labonte, driver of the Interstate Batteries Pontiac, finished 1-2 for the Grand Prix "WideTrack Attack." It was the first 1-2 Pontiac finish in a NASCAR Winston Cup race since Rusty Wallace and Kyle Petty turned the trick at North Wilkesboro in 1993.
"It was great for Pontiac," Stewart said. "It was a team effort. That's what we were working for, a 1-2 finish. I'm just glad I was the guy in first tonight. Our Grand Prix was great. We never turned a screw on it all night."
But Stewart, like he has much of the season, put the screws to the competition. He became the first rookie on the circuit to win since the late Davey Allison in 1987. Often compared to three-time champion Jeff Gordon, Stewart's rookie statistics are actually far better. After 25 races, Stewart has one win, eight top-five and 16 top-10 finishes with only one DNF. At the same point in his rookie year, Gordon had six top-five and 10 top-10 finishes with eight DNFs.
Stewart now ranks fourth in the point standings and is only 80 points behind Martin for second-place. He is in awe of his accomplishments.
"When you can beat the guys you've watched on TV for years, it just means a little extra," Stewart said. "It's unbelievable. I would have never dreamed that I would have got here first of all, let alone gotten the opportunity to win a race. To do it in my rookie season, just amazes me."
Pontiac continued its magical season, earning the manufacturer's sixth victory of the year. After 25 races, Pontiac has 30 top-five and 66 top-10 finishes. At the same point last season, Pontiac had 11 top-five and 33 top-10 finishes.
Labonte inched closer into championship contention with his career-best short track finish. He solidified his hold on third-place in the standings, and is only 40 points behind Martin for second.