NASCAR’s reigning champion Tony Stewart felt the pressure from Jimmie Johnson as the final handful of laps wound down. Stewart was so concerned with Johnson that he asked his team to ask NASCAR to make sure that Johnson did not lay back to get an extra bit of momentum on the final re-start.
When the green flag fell for the last time Johnson and Stewart rocketed ahead of the field and it was Stewart getting to the checkered flag first for the win.
It was the first Vegas victory for Stewart, leaving only Kentucky and Darlington as tracks Smoke has not won at.
Ironically the move Stewart warned about was the same one he himself had used with about 3o laps to go to grab the lead from Brad Keselowski on another re-start.
Dale Earnhardt Jr was fastest at the start of the race leading 73 laps early on, including the first 43. But Earnhardt’s shot at victory faded when he took 4 tires on a pit stop, while most other teams only took 2.
What were your thoughts on the race? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.
You may want to vent. You may want to cheer. But here’s your chance to have your say on the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas.
Tony Stewart looked to be the driver to beat as the laps wound down. But as the race ended he could only wonder how he lost the race to Carl Edwards.
It was pit strategy that won Carl Edwards the race. Edwards took just 2 tires on the final pit stop while Stewart’s crew chief Darian Grubb was forced to take 4, having took only 2 on the previous stop.
The quick stop put Edwards in the lead and he never looked back.
What really cost Stewart the win was a penalty mid-race for leaving his pit with an air gun. That put him far back in the field and led to the decision him to take only 2 tires on the second to last pit stop in order to make up ground. This meant that on the final pit stop Edwards had the option of 2 tires or 4. Stewart had no options.
Dale Earnhardt Jr had a fast car for short runs, but was not so good on longer runs. He was faster than eventual winner Carl Edwards at one point late in the race, easily passing Edwards’ No. 99 Ford. But was unable to maintain the speed as the race progressed.
There was definitely an issue with the Goodyear tires today, with several drivers including last week’s winner Jeff Gordon and points leader Kyle Busch crashing due to blown tires.
Some teams are still trying to get the hang of the new self-venting fuel cans. Greg Biffle had more than one problem getting fuel in his No. 16 Ford. At one point the fuel man even dropped the can trying to fuel the car.
So whether you want to cheer or whether you need to vent here’s your chance. Have your say on the Kobalt Tools 400.
Tony Stewart found himself behind closed doors at an Australian police station following a scuffle with a race track owner there.
Stewart was in Australia to compete in a Sprint Car race when he became involved with track owner Brett Morris over a safety issue when water began seeping onto the tracks surface.
As the discussion became more heated Stewart allegedly hit Morris with his helmet. The track owner retaliated and Stewart reportedly suffered a black eye.
Stewart says he is embarrassed by the situation.
â€œThere was an altercation at the racetrackâ€ said Stewart as he took a break in tasting at Daytona Thursday. â€œWe went down to the police station, we gave them a statement. They told us after the statement that we were free to go back to the hotel room and free to get on the plane the next day.â€
It is not yet clear whether any charges will be filed.
Kyle Busch Wrecked by His Own Move
Tony Stewart was a little subdued and almost apologetic in Victory Lane after dominating Saturday nightâ€™s Coke Zero 400 at Daytona.
Stewart seemed to think he shouldered some responsibility for putting Kyle Busch in the wall just yards from the finish line on the final lap.
â€œI guess I just don’t feel as much gratification from winning this race as I probably should,â€ said Tony Stewart. â€œI don’t want any part of earning a race because the guy that was leading the race got wrecked.â€
Kyle Put Tony in Bad Position
â€œI don’t know that we did anything wrong.Â I’ve seen replays of it, and he’s protecting his position, which he’s got to do. Â I mean, that’s what he has to do as a driver.Â He can’t just sit there and let us make a move like that and not try to defend it.Â But it puts him, it puts us, it put Kasey Kahne behind him in a bad position where it drove Kyle’s car all the way up to Kasey’s windshield.
â€œI guess tomorrow I might be happier about it,â€ said Stewart.
Tony Stewart did nothing wrong.
Stewart Miscue Lets Kyle Pass
Busch was able to drive past Stewart coming to the white flag thanks to a miscalculation on the part of Tony Stewart. â€œWe slowed down just trying not to get too big a gap,â€ said Stewart, â€œand I timed it wrong and that gave him a chance to get around us. It was just a mistake on my part. He had been setting that move up for a couple laps, and I tried not to give him too much of a gap to get a run like that. Â I slowed myself down too much to protect my spot.Â It was a mistake on my part that gave him enough of a shot to get a big run on the outside like that.â€
Stewart was faster than Busch and he was trying to pass. When Stewart moved his No.14 Chevy to the bottom of the racetrack Kyle Busch cut him off. It didnâ€™t matter. Stewart had a head of steam and went to the high side and started to move around Kyle Buschâ€™s Toyota. By the time Kyle figured out what was happening Stewart already had his bumper along-side. When Kyle tried to block the second time Stewart held his line and Busch spun across Stewartâ€™s bumper.
â€œWe went for it right there at the end,â€ said crew Kyle Buschâ€™s chief Steve Addington.Â â€œWhat are you going to say?Â Everybody on this race team worked their tails off and we had a good racecar.Â I canâ€™t say anything.Â Iâ€™m not pointing any fingers at Tony.Â He was trying to win the race, Kyle was trying to block him for the win and we got turned around.â€
That block ruined some good race cars on the final lap â€“ including Kasey Kahne and Joey Logano who had nowhere to go when Busch hit the wall. Both of them hit Kyleâ€™s No. 18 Toyota â€“ Kasey Kahne lifted Buschâ€™s wheels off the ground and literally drove underneath him.
The finish line was so close that if Kyle Busch had held his line instead of blocking Stewart the two would have crossed the line side by side. Busch could have still won. At worst he would have been second.
Instead Busch finished 14th as Stewart took the checkered flag.
Stewart Lucky He Didnâ€™t Wreck
â€œI was kind of surprised at where we came out of that ordeal, not necessarily with the lead but the direction we were pointed,â€ said Stewart.â€ It really easily could have taken us out of a chance to win the race, too.â€
â€œIt happened so quick and he went across the nose so fast, and the next thing we know we’re pointed at the line.â€
The move looked similar to the block Carl Edwards tried to put on Brad Keselowski at Talladega. The results were about the same, too.
NASCAR Officials Corner Busch
Following the race Busch blew off reporters who were waiting to talk to him â€“ and he tried to blow off NASCAR officials who wanted him to see a doctor in the infield care center. The officials were having none of that. Busch had to be forcibly turned around and put in a waiting truck to go be checked out.
Kyle Buschâ€™s best shot at Victory would have been not to block Tony Stewart. I do not see where Tony Stewart did anything wrong. Do you?
Tony Stewart Proved That an Owner-Driver Can Win
In winning Saturday Nights’ Sprint All Star Race Tony Stewart proved that an owner-driver can still get the job done in NASCAR.
Tony Stewart combined sheer will and determination to win with a fast, well-handling car to pull off a late race pass for the win.
Stewart scored the first win ever for his Stewart-Haas Racing and won $1 million in prize money by passing Matt Kenseth with just 2 laps to go – Stewart would lead to the checkered flag.
Tony Stewart and his crew chief Darian Grubb have learned a secret to making Stewart’s No. 14 Chevy fast off the corners, and Stewart isn’t interested in sharing that secret.
When his crew chief was asked what they had done to make the car so fast at the end of the race Stewart cut in and said: “You tell them that, I’ll kill you.”
With NASCAR headed back to Charlotte for the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday Tony Stewart likes his chances to repeat. Stewart said he had a better car back at the shop than the one he won with Saturday night.
Stewart’s win left some Dale Earnhardt Jr fans puzzled. Stewart gets his cars and engines from Hendrick Motorsports, and one Junior fan wanted to know if Stewart’s cars were being built by the same people who were building Dale Jr’s cars.
It was pretty unusual that Rick Hendrick would call Tony Stewart on a cell phone in Victory Lane. Is Stewart-Haas really just buying equipment from Rick Hendrick, or does Hendrick have a stake in the team?
Rolling Stone Rolls with Smoke
Tony Stewart had a calm look on his face, even as he walked away from a smoldering race car with his helmet in one hand, and the steering wheel in the other.
“… made a trip with Stewart to the Talladega Dirt Track to watch Stewart’s driver Redneck Jody race.”
Mike Guy, one of Rolling Stone’s preeminent writers, tagged along with Smoke for 4 weeks this spring in order to bring the magazine’s readers an inside look at NASCAR’s 2 time champion.
Guy had access to Stewart that few reporters – few people – ever get. He flew with Tony on the Citation jet, rode in Tony’s beat up Hummer as the two made their way to Smoke’s Indiana home at dawn, made a trip with Stewart to the Talladega Dirt Track to watch Stewart’s driver Redneck Jody race, and even sat in the motor home with the driver and his posse as they ate ravioli and doughnuts moments after Junior wrecked him and took him out of the race.
One night when Guy and Stewart arrived back at Smoke’s house in Indiana – which the magazine writer describes as more like an extended stay hotel than a home – someone opened the refrigerator only to discover there was no food. Nothing but a can of tangerine wedges – marinated in rum, and a 6 pack of Schlitz.
Smoke offered Guy, who doesn’t drink, the tangerines, never telling him about the rum marinade. By the time he plopped the first one into his mouth it was too late. I’m sure Smoke got a laugh out of that.
Once, Guy tried to console Stewart following a mediocre race at Phoenix. “Good race,” says the writer. In typical Tony Stewart fashion the driver responded “Oh you think so? Because I think it sucked.”
One thing that Guy found was that even the ever calm Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s Vice President of Corporate Communications, had some harsh words for Stewart. Yet Hunter also said that it was drivers like Tony Stewart that made the sport what it is today.
Mike Guy’s article is an entertaining story – even if you’re not a fan of Smoke. It’s worth the price of the magazine just to hear what Tony said about Kurt Busch. Or you can read the article online at RollingStone.com.
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