Watkins Glen win for Stewart. WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 11, 2002) - Tony Stewart did what he does best in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series - he won. For the third time this season and the 15th of his career, Stewart wheeled his ...
Watkins Glen win for Stewart.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y., (Aug. 11, 2002) - Tony Stewart did what he does best in the NASCAR Winston Cup Series - he won. For the third time this season and the 15th of his career, Stewart wheeled his #20 Home Depot Pontiac to victory lane in Sunday's Sirius Satellite Radio At The Glen for what had to be one of his more satisfying wins in all of his 23 years of racing.
After a week filled with the repercussions of an incident involving a photographer following last Sunday's Brickyard 400, Stewart came to the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course in upstate New York awaiting the solitude that his 3,400-pound Home Depot Pontiac offered.
He took full advantage of the familiar confines, qualifying third before leading three times for 34 laps in the 90-lap race - the most of any driver. It was Stewart's second career road course victory, the first of which came last June at Sonoma, Calif.
"I owe this all to my Home Depot team and to Home Depot," said Stewart, who led the final 18 laps after passing rookie Ryan Newman. "They stuck with me this weekend, and it's been a tough weekend for all of us. We've done a lot of great things together, but I've done a lot of things to hurt this race team, too. It's nice to be able to come back out here on a day like today, work hard like we did I couldn't ask for a better day than this."
Stewart definitely worked hard, as he had to hold of his challengers twice after restarts late in the race. But after a momentary red flag condition that resulted in a green-white-checker finish, Stewart beat Newman to the line by 1.636-seconds. Following Newman were Robby Gordon, P.J. Jones and pole-sitter Ricky Rudd, who finished third through fifth, respectively.
"We did what we had to do," said Stewart when asked if he jumped the flag on the final restart. "This is a tough race on restarts - where the flag stand is and where the last corner is and where the pits start. It really puts the lead car at a disadvantage, so as I driver I just did my job. I did what I was supposed to do as a driver and that is to try to take away their advantage.
"The road course guys, (Scott) Pruett and P.J. Jones, were lagging back to try to get a run on us. We were sitting ducks if we didn't do something about it. I wasn't going to throw this race away because of a delay on the race track. We won this thing honestly. When I left, they had the same opportunity to get in the gas at the same place I did. It's not like we did something they weren't able to do, too."
Getting the jump on the final restart capped an almost perfect race for Stewart, who said his only mistake came early in the day with some accidental contact between him and Gordon.
"I ran down into turn one and missed the corner and hit Robby Gordon," said Stewart. "I felt bad I ran into him. Robby has come a long way in Winston Cup racing and he is gaining a lot of respect from a lot of drivers. I know that he wouldn't do it to me intentionally. I didn't mean to do it to him intentionally, so I just kind of lifted when we came off the corner, gave him his spot back and said, 'If I'm going to get by him, I'm going to earn it.' I felt like I could let it go at that point. I saw Robby on the next yellow and we waved to each other, so he knew it was an accident.
"It was just a hard race. This is The Glen. Thankfully, we were able to keep our track position all day. We did exactly what we set out to do at the beginning of the race, and luckily it worked out for us."
While Stewart's luck at The Glen proved strong, the luck of championship point leader Sterling Marlin did not. Marlin finished a dismal 30th, allowing the points race to tighten up considerably. A scant 53 points now separates Marlin from second-place Mark Martin, while Stewart's winning ways vaulted him from seventh to fourth in the championship standings, 104 points behind Marlin. Stewart's fourth-place position is his highest point standing he's had in 2002. None of the top-four drivers in points (Marlin, Martin, Jimmie Johnson and Stewart) have ever won a Winston Cup title.
The next event on the Winston Cup schedule is the Aug. 18 Pepsi 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Live coverage by TNT begins at 2 p.m. EDT.