STEWART STILL STRONG AT WATKINS GLEN Old Spice/Office Depot Driver Finishes Seventh to Notch Ninth Top-10 in 12 Sprint Cup Starts at The Glen Tony Stewart knocked down another top-10 finish and bulked up his Chase standing by recording a solid...
STEWART STILL STRONG AT WATKINS GLEN
Old Spice/Office Depot Driver Finishes Seventh to Notch Ninth Top-10 in 12 Sprint Cup Starts at The Glen
Tony Stewart knocked down another top-10 finish and bulked up his Chase standing by recording a solid seventh-place result in Sunday's Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at the Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International road course.
The driver of the No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) has now logged four straight top-10 finishes, and nine top-10s in the last 11 Sprint Cup races. The summer surge has allowed Stewart to climb from 18th in the championship standings, where he was 59 points outside the ever-important top-12 after round 11 of 36 at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway, to an eighth-place point standing with a 234-point cushion over 13th-place Clint Bowyer -- the first driver on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship -- with just four races remaining before the Chase field is set.
Getting that top-10 -- Stewart's ninth in 12 career Sprint Cup starts at The Glen -- didn't come easy. He battled a racecar that struggled to find grip whenever he throttled up around the track's 2.45-mile, 11-turn layout, and he also had to contend with the various skirmishes that tend to pop up when 43 drives used to only turning left have to wheel their 3,400-pound stock cars to the left and right.
Most of the on-track contact was incidental, but the one that stood out came on lap 66 when Stewart and road-racing ace Boris Said tangled at the end of the short chute before turn two.
Stewart emerged from the dust-up no worse for wear, but Said was another matter.
With Said's Toyota on Stewart's inside after exiting the sweeping right-hand turn one, Stewart rifled down the short chute on the outside edge of the pavement. Said kept inching closer beside Stewart and, finally, with no more pavement to work with, Stewart held his line while Said crossed the nose of Stewart's Chevy.
With barely a scratch on the bumper of his Old Spice/Office Depot machine, Stewart powered his way through turn two and up the esses while Said spun backward into the SAFER Barrier.
"I got to the left of him and I got through the last corner just fine," explained Stewart. "We got through (turn) one just fine and he just moved a little to the left there. I have to stay on the road. I gave him room through two corners and never pinched him down. I don't know if he didn't know we were still there or if he thought he had more room. I can't go any further left than what I already was."
What was done was done. Said went to the garage and Stewart motored on in eighth-place.
The race restarted on lap 70, but was interrupted again on lap 71 when Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin collided in turn seven. The final restart came on lap 75, setting up a 15-lap shootout to the finish.
Stewart held steady in eighth, opening up a comfortable margin over ninth-place Kyle Busch with 10 laps to go. Seventh-place Kevin Harvick was many car lengths ahead of Stewart, but when he cut a tire down on the penultimate lap, Stewart inherited seventh and held the spot when the checkered flag dropped on lap 90.
"It was about an average day for here. We're normally used to running a little better than that," said Stewart, who leads all Sprint Cup drivers with five wins at Watkins Glen, a tally that includes last year's race. "We could run good lap times, but we just couldn't do it in a pack of cars. Where I needed to be good around guys, I couldn't get going. Once we got sorted out by ourselves we could run decent lap times and comparable times to the leaders, but I just couldn't do what I needed to do in traffic."
Teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for SHR, finished 12th. It was his eighth top-12 finish of the season and second in a row, and his best result at Watkins Glen since he finished eighth in 2006.
The effort moved Newman up one position to 14th in the standings. He has 2,558 points and is 83 points back of 12th-place Mark Martin, who holds the final spot in the Chase.
Juan Pablo Montoya won the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen to score his second career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Watkins Glen.
Kurt Busch finished 4.735 seconds behind Montoya in the runner-up spot, while Marcos Ambrose, A.J. Allmendinger and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Jamie McMurray, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 13 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Aug. 15 Carfax 400 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn.