Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

Tony Stewart! Two for two in the playoffs now, as title rivals continue to stumble

  Tony Stewart: and that's certainly not the towel he's throwing in victory lane at New Hampshire Motor Speedway (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


   By Mike Mulhern


   Nobody saw this coming.
   Tony Stewart?
   For a guy who moped his way through NASCAR's regular season, with mediocre runs, no wins, and a bunch of complaints, Stewart is making everyone sit up and take notice of him in the playoffs.
   Stewart played the gas mileage game – yes, another gas mileage finish – perfectly for the second straight race, in winning Sunday's New Hampshire 300, just six days after his similar win in the Chicago 400.

   "We've got eight long weeks ahead, and it's way to early to start counting chickens," Stewart said.
   "We got rid of some deadweight earlier this week, and that's definitely helped. Sometimes you have to make some adjustments in your life."
    It wasn't immediately clear what Stewart was referring to. And Stewart refused to amplify: "That's just the way we're going to leave. Not saying any more."
    Darian Grubb, Stewart's crew chief, said there were no crew changes.
    Out on the track Clint Bowyer was Sunday's victim this time. He was leading down the stretch, and Stewart could just hang with him but not make any moves for the lead.
   Then with two laps to go Bowyer suddenly slowed.
   Stewart went around for the lead and the win, as Greg Biffle, running second at that moment, also ran out, giving that runner-up spot to fellow player racer Brad Keselowski.

     Clint Bowyer: he won this race on fuel mileage a year ago...and he lost this race on fuel mileage Sunday, running out with two laps to go (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

    "I know exactly what Clint feels like right now," Stewart said, referring to his own loss to Bowyer in a role reversal one year ago here.
   "I saw him slowing down the backstretch, and said 'oh, no.'
   "It's fun racing him; he had the better car at the end.
   "The last two weeks we've been good on fuel mileage."
  Certainly. Most of Stewart's rivals ran out of gas at Chicago in another fuel mileage finish.
   Jeff Gordon clearly had the best car on the track, dominating play and holding a nine-second lead when he made his final scheduled stop – and ran out as he reached pit road. That set up an extra-long pit stop for Gordon, and he never got back in the race.
   "It's frustrating for everybody on this team," Gordon said. "It's surprising to all of us we ran out of gas under green. We're making great horsepower….but Tony's got the same engines we've got, so we've just got to do a better job.
   "I certainly wasn't expecting to have to conserve as much gas as we did."
   "I'd like to win the chase, but I'd like to win a race too, and we had a car that could have done it today," Dale Earnhardt Jr. said. Earnhardt, third in the chase opener in Chicago, was top-10 all Sunday but cut a tire and wound up a disappointed 17th.  

  NASCAR inspectors didn't like what they saw on Kurt Busch's Dodge in pre-race inspection, and they made his crew sit idle and fume for nearly an hour before letting the car roll to the starting line...just moments  before the start of the race. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   Aside from Stewart and Keselowski, it wasn't a great day for the Sprint Cup title hunters:
   -- Kurt Busch didn't get off to a good start Sunday, and he didn't get much of a finish either.
   NASCAR officials didn't like what they saw on his car in pre-race inspection, and they let him sit and stew for nearly an hour before allowing the repairs -- apparently the rear end was slightly off-set -- and letting his crew roll it to the starting grid.
   Crew chief Steve Addington conceded "NASCAR has a right to be mad," because Busch's crew has been aggravating officials with minor slips in inspections for several weeks now. "We'll take care of it," Addington said.
   NASCAR's Mike Helton made the point, apparently, personally with team owner Roger Penske, in a brief pre-race talk.
   Busch was never a factor in the race and finished 22nd. That puts him ninth in the 12-man playoff standings heading this week to Dover, Del.
   Kurt Busch, meanwhile, called it just "a frustrating day.
   "Our car was a handful. The front tires felt like they were on skids, and the car was plowing the corners.
   "We were late through inspection, and that set the tone for our day."

   -- It was also another bad day for Denny Hamlin, and a cruel one at that. After a terrible run at Chicago, and a weak qualifying run here, Hamlin fought his way up to seventh during the 300...only to run out of gas in the final miles. He finished 29th, which all but dooms him in this year's title hunt.

   -- Ryan Newman, winner here from the pole in July, suffered with a bad finish this time. Through running fairly well during the three-hour race, he wound up nursing a car with a loose wheel late in the day, and he finally was forced to make a green flag stop for repairs and finished 25th.
    That's a big blow to his title hopes too.

    -- Matt Kenseth can commiserate: He was doing well when he was inadverantly clobbered in the rear by teammate Carl Edwards in traffic. Kenseth managed to recover and rallied to sixth. But he's still in a hole in the playoffs.

   -- Jimmie Johnson likewise -- a four-tire pit road call midway backfired, and put him deep in the field. While trying to recover, Johnson banged fenders with Kyle Busch several times....and Johnson's 18th place finish certainly didn't help him in the points.
    -- Title challenger Dale Earnhardt Jr. too had a weak finish, after a strong run. A couple of flat tires late left him 17th at the end.
    -- Kyle Busch, though he came out the better in the bumping with Johnson, was never a contender.
     Johnson's take, on the Kyle Busch bumps:  "Track position was really important, and he was just racing really hard…which was just what he's supposed to do.
   "Typically the one lane off the bottom is the lane you give someone when they're on the inside of you. He didn't want to give that lane up. And we just made some contact.
     "It wasn't like he was trying to wreck me, or anything; he was just being stubborn -- an end-of-a-race mentality.
    "When we got together the second time, I think our wheels locked, and it whipped the wheel out of my hand and bent something in the steering up front.
     "It was just the end of a bad day. We didn't have a car like we thought we would; we were really optimistic Saturday.
    "But in the race it just didn't have the speed. And then track position was so important, and some pit calls didn't work out our way.
    "We'll take this one on the chin and go on to the next one."

    Jeff Gordon (outside on the front row for a restart) had the best car in the New Hampshire field...but once again not enough gas mileage to make it count. (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)


WOW know one seen this

WOW know one seen this coming, this championship was bought and paid for for what 2 or 3 years ago by chevy to get him away from toyota i mean the team ownership the hendricks cars the engineering the whole thing was part of the deal between tony,chevy and rick just go back and read the old stories about the DEAL between tony and chevy allmost to the T line for line we'll make you a owner we'll get you hendrick cars and a championship its all there. just like DAYS OF THUNDER and gordon we've got a open wheel driver from california that can outrun all the veteran drivers,thats when hendrick pulled gordon away from ford and called nascar to tell them i've got a open wheel driver from california lets do it, what 4 championships then he forgets how to drive b.s its allways a bought and paid for by rick hendrick champion. when he wins this one jr will be next in line the money has allready been spent.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com