Pocono Speeding Ticket Thwarts Solid Run for Stewart Home Depot Driver Leads Laps and Contends for Top-10 Before Pit Road Speeding Penalty Tony Stewart was reminded Sunday that receiving a speeding ticket is never a pleasant ...
Pocono Speeding Ticket Thwarts Solid Run for Stewart
Home Depot Driver Leads Laps and Contends for Top-10 Before Pit Road Speeding Penalty
Tony Stewart was reminded Sunday that receiving a speeding ticket is never a pleasant experience.
Stewart, driver of the No. 20 Home Depot Toyota for Joe Gibbs Racing, led 14 laps and hung inside the top-10 for the majority of Sunday's Pocono 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway before a pit road speeding penalty on lap 177 of the 200-lap event dropped him off the lead lap. The infraction dropped Stewart in the rundown as well, as he finished 35th when the checkered flag fell.
After starting 12th, Stewart hung tough despite battling a car that in each of the track's three distinct corners was loose on entry, tight in the middle and loose on exit. Over the course of the first 100 laps around the 2.5-mile triangle, crew chief Greg Zipadelli continuously tweaked the No. 20 car's chassis via track bar, wedge and tire pressure adjustments. While the changes seemed to help The Home Depot Toyota, the biggest difference came when Stewart was able to get toward the front of the field in clean air.
Stewart and Co. worked hard to gain precious track position, but found themselves in 12th-place at the halfway point of the race as they continued to fight handling issues. On lap 105, the No. 20 car's handling faded so badly that Stewart thought he had a tire going down and brought the car to pit road. While on pit road, Stewart received a bit of good luck as Michael Waltrip spun to bring out a caution. Since Stewart didn't go a lap down and the rest of the leaders decided to pit under caution, it enabled Stewart to restart in second-place on lap 108.
The veteran Joe Gibbs Racing driver used the good track position to take his only lead of the day on lap 109. He held on to the top spot for 14 laps before the caution flag waved yet again.
Despite restarting in fourth on lap 125, Stewart fell to eighth prior to bringing the No. 20 car down pit road for the final time on lap 171.
But while exiting pit road, NASCAR officials deemed that Stewart had exceeded the 55 mph pit road speed limit. They forced him to return to pit road for a pass through penalty under green flag conditions, which put Stewart a lap down. The speeding ticket was especially costly since there were less than 30 laps remaining, giving little to no hope that Stewart could regain the lost lap. Stewart eventually finished as the first car one lap down in 35th.