Watkins Glen: Tony Stewart race report

Stewart Steamroll Keeps on Rolling at The Glen Home Depot Driver Scores Fifth Victory in Seven Races, Increases Point Lead WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 14, 2005) - It was another race and another dominating performance as Home Depot Chevrolet...

Stewart Steamroll Keeps on Rolling at The Glen
Home Depot Driver Scores Fifth Victory in Seven Races, Increases Point Lead

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 14, 2005) - It was another race and another dominating performance as Home Depot Chevrolet driver Tony Stewart led 83 of the 92 laps in Sunday's Sirius At The Glen NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen International road course.

Stewart's victory at the 2.45-mile layout was his fifth in the last seven races and his second straight, as he won the previous weekend at Indianapolis.

By leading all but nine laps, Stewart broke Mark Martin's record for laps led in a single Watkins Glen event. His third victory in seven career starts at The Glen also extended his series point lead by 30 over Jimmie Johnson. Stewart now leads by 105 points with four races left before the Chase for the Championship begins.

Upon that time, Stewart is assured of being no worse than third when NASCAR resets the standings at five-point intervals for the top-10 drivers when the 10-race Chase for the Championship begins Sept. 18 at New Hampshire International Speedway - the venue where the 2002 Cup series champion won in July.

"We had a pretty flawless day," said Stewart, whose win marked his fifth career road course win and his third straight, as he won last year's race at The Glen and earlier this year at Sonoma, the only other road course race on the schedule. "We could run the places we needed to run. The only two challenges I had were on restarts, getting down into turn one. Robby Gordon was the one I was really worried about, because he's one of the best at braking getting into the corners here."

"This is a hard track to be the leader on restarts. You're a sitting duck, so to speak. Guys will sit back and really take advantage of being able to roll the restarts and get a run and they can carry it down the frontstretch. That made the restarts critical for us today. If I could get through turn one, I didn't have any concerns after that."

The Watkins Glen win marked Stewart's 24th career Nextel Cup victory, and it highlighted the incredible roll he has enjoyed since finishing second at Michigan in mid-June. During that eight-race span, Stewart has scored all but 89 of the possible points available while leading the most laps in six of those races - Michigan, Sonoma (Calif.), Daytona (Fla.), New Hampshire, Indianapolis and Watkins Glen.

"For us to be able to win at Daytona, Indy, Sears Point (Sonoma), Watkins Glen and Loudon - to win on all those disciplines like that, it really shows how diverse our program is," said Stewart. "It's a tribute to Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli) and the guys and the job they're doing."

"I've been in zones before where I would finish in the top-three when I was in midgets and sprint cars, where I could go week-in and week-out and not fall out of the top-three. To win five out of the last seven and be in the top-five for the last eight weeks, I think that's a pretty good record."

Not even a balky alternator on the day's final caution flag could derail Stewart.

After clicking off his air conditioning and all but the absolutely necessary brake cooling fans, Stewart radioed to Zipadelli that there was a problem. After some discussion, Zipadelli calmly told Stewart to switch to the alternate battery for the final green-white-checkered finish.

"Don't worry about it," said Zipadelli, "just do what you do on the restart and this one's yours."

There was no doubt as to the outcome once the green flag waved, as Stewart drove away from second-place Gordon and third-place Boris Said to earn his second back-to-back win of the season and the fifth of his Nextel Cup career.

"We had an absolutely flawless day today, with the exception of the alternator," said Stewart. "I don't know if we had a big problem or not. I know it wasn't reading what it was earlier in the race. I didn't tell Zippy until the caution came out. Just about every fan I could safely shut off without hurting the race car, I had them shut off."

After starting on the pole when rain washed out Saturday's qualifying session with nine drivers yet to run, Stewart wasted little time getting down to business. By the end of the first lap he was six lengths ahead of Johnson, who started second on points. Three laps later, he was up by nearly three seconds and had the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet on cruise control.

The first of two pit stops came on lap 22, and Greg Zipadelli and The Home Depot crew changed four tires and filled the car with gas. He rejoined in third, and by lap 27 was back in front.

The second and final pit stop came on lap 56, and it was more of the same. Four tires, a slight air pressure adjustment, a full tank of fuel and Stewart was off. Three laps later, he was back in the lead, passing Ryan Newman. He would never lose the top spot again.

On that pit stop, Zipadelli made what turned out to be a prophetic statement. "Fuel should be fine, but we'll protect a little bit for a green-white-checkered."

The seventh and final caution came out on lap 89, when Kurt Busch, Jorge Goeters and Ron Fellows tangled in the inner loop. That set up the green-white-checkered finish, and once the alternator problem was fixed, Stewart was golden.

Gordon was second, followed by road-course aces Said and Scott Pruett. Johnson was fifth, with Rusty Wallace in sixth, followed by Martin, Brian Vickers, Joe Nemechek and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the Aug. 21 GFS Marketplace 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race begins at 2:10 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by TNT.

-jgr-

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Dale Earnhardt Jr. , Tony Stewart , Rusty Wallace , Boris Said , Joe Nemechek , Robby Gordon , Kurt Busch , Ryan Newman , Ron Fellows , Scott Pruett , Mark Martin