THIS KIND OF 'UNEVENTFUL' IS JUST FINE, THANK YOU Stewart, Home Depot Toyota Score Another Runner-Up Finish at The Glen Tony Stewart called his day in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) rather uneventful. But his ...
THIS KIND OF 'UNEVENTFUL' IS JUST FINE, THANK YOU
Stewart, Home Depot Toyota Score Another Runner-Up Finish at The Glen
Tony Stewart called his day in the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) rather uneventful. But his runner-up finish to JGR teammate Kyle Busch in Sunday's Centurion Boats at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International left him and the Home Depot team plenty to be excited about.
It was Stewart's second runner-up finish in a row (he was second last week at Pocono), his eighth of the season and, most importantly, moved him up two spots to seventh in the Sprint Cup driver standings with a somewhat comfortable 138-point margin over the top driver (Clint Bowyer) on the outside looking in at the 12-driver Chase for the Championship with four "regular-season" races remaining.
Stewart started ninth on a grid set according to owner points after Friday's qualifying session was rained out and didn't waste any time making his way toward the front at the outset of today's 90-lap event around the 2.45-mile, 11-turn Watkins Glen circuit. He passed two cars on his way to turn one, then got another before completing his first tour of the circuit, and was in the top-five by the end of lap two. Stewart passed Jeff Gordon for fourth on lap 10, then settled in right there, behind leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson, and Busch, until pitting for the first time for tires, fuel and a rear tire-pressure adjustment for added grip on lap 23.
Not long after the first round of green-flag stops cycled through, Stewart was back in fourth by lap 30. He then passed Kevin Harvick for third place on lap 31, and chased race-leader Busch and second-place Johnson. When Johnson pitted on lap 42, Stewart moved up to second and chased his JGR teammate all the way to the checkered flag. Busch did allow Stewart to lead briefly, on lap 54, so Stewart could collect the five bonus points for leading a lap before giving the point right back to Busch. And the red-hot driver of the No. 18 M&M's Toyota was not to be caught en route to his eighth victory of the season, including the final six-lap sprint to the finish after a 50-minute red flag to clean up the aftermath of a huge, multi-car accident at the entrance to pit road.
"I was pretty happy with it ... it was fairly uneventful from our side," said Stewart, who came here as the defending race winner and winner of four of the last six events at The Glen. "We didn't have any big dramas. The red there at the end kind of killed us a little bit, but I'm really happy with the day, proud of Kyle and how he ran, and we saw behind us that Denny (Hamlin, who finished eighth) was having a good day, too. So I'm really proud of the whole (JGR) organization and thought it was a good day for us."
Stewart admitted his Home Depot Toyota was just a bit off, handling-wise, to where he was able to keep up with Busch but not be able to get around him.
"But even if we got that fixed, I'm not sure we were going to be fast enough to get by Kyle," Stewart said. "He never made a mistake. He had a really, really good car today, and he was fast in all the right spots he needed to be fast in. You know, I think he ran a perfect race today. I thought we were really close. I mean, we're talking nitpicking stuff to get our car perfect. So I was really proud of our guys. Our pit stops were good today. I thought Zippy (crew chief Greg Zipadelli) had good pit strategy. It's days like today that you want every week. You want it to be uneventful and be this smooth every day."
The last time all three JGR drivers finished in the top-10 was in March at Texas Motor Speedway, when Busch finished third, Hamlin finished fifth and Stewart finished seventh. The Centurion Boats at The Glen also marked the second time in 2008 that JGR has finished 1-2 as Busch won and Stewart finished second in March at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Busch remains the lead JGR driver in the championship point race. He continues to be the series' point leader, and extended his advantage to 242 markers over second-place Carl Edwards. While Stewart gained two spots today, placing him in seventh, Hamlin moved up one spot to ninth. Stewart is 510 points behind Busch while Hamlin sits 565 points arrears Busch.