Sunday, July 15
Tony Stewart salutes the fans from the flagstand after winning the USG Durock 400 - and climbing the fence from the track to the stand.
More pix at the end of this page...
Stewart Grabs Checkered Flag; First 07 Win
JOLIET, ILL. (July 15, 2007) - Tony Stewart was back where he wanted to be late Sunday afternoon -- in the starter's stand at Chicagoland Speedway.
For the first time this season, Stewart won a NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race.
A capacity crowd of more than 100,000 spectators cheered Stewart home first after a flurry of late-race caution flags kept bunching the field for restarts.
The former NASCAR champion held off a furious run by another former champ, Matt Kenseth, with less than 15 laps remaining in the 267-lap, 400-mile USG Sheetrock event.
Trailing Stewart, who has led races, had numerous good finishes but hadn't won until Sunday, and Kenseth were Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer.
Bowyer's 10th-place finish was particularly impressive after he overcame a pit road speeding penalty that sent him to the rear of the pack shortly after the halfway point.
Stewart has encountered various forms of bad racing luck this season although being in contention for a win almost every race. He was a contender all afternoon Sunday running with the leaders and leading throughout the day before his pit crew got him back on the track after one of the final caution periods. He never looked back.
When it was over, he did his signature "Spiderman" climb up the fence to the starter's stand, much to the delight of the cheering crowd.
Popular Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished 19th after being a contender most of the race. His power steering failed near the end, which dropped him out of the frontrunners.
Pole-sitter Mears charged into the lead when the green flag started the race but Truex took over on the eighth lap. Truex's DEI teammate Paul Menard, however, did not get off to a good start. His Chevrolet rolled down pit road on the 10th lap with smoke spewing from beneath the hood.
Jimmie Johnson moved in front on the 20th lap with Truex, Mears, Kyle Busch, and Earnhardt strung out behind.
Jeff Green did a solo spin in turn two on lap 58, bringing out the first caution of the sunny afternoon. Everyone had made a green flag pit stop at that point and Harvick, winner of Saturday's NASCAR Busch Series race, sped to the front of the field.
After 76 laps, Harvick led Reed Sorensen, Stewart, Kyle Busch, Gordon, Kenseth, Johnson, Newman, Bowyer and Earnhardt. Earnhardt missed the pit entrance and had to make another lap which cost him valuable time. Truex also had a troublesome stop which shuffled him back to 11th spot.
David Reutimann’s Toyota limped to the garage before halfway with mechanical problems as Harvick continued to set a blistering pace.
The driver of the Richard Childress Shell/Pennzoil Chevy pitted along with everyone else at lap 110, the second green flag stop of the day.
Once everyone stopped, Harvick was back in front with Johnson, Stewart, Kyle Busch and Kenseth close behind.
Johnson and Stewart passed Harvick for the lead and second spot on lap 122. At halfway (133 laps), Johnson was in control with Stewart second and Harvick third. Trailing this trio was Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Gordon, Newman, Earnhardt, Edwards and Truex.
Johnson's day ended prematurely when he cut right-rear tire while leading causing him to make contact with the SAFER barrier.
Complete race results and point standings in the Event Stats section following.
Checkered Flag Fast Facts
Practice: Friday, July 13 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m./AT, 12:30 p.m./ET)
Qualifying: Friday, July 13 (SPEED at 5 p.m./AT, 4 p.m./ET)
Practice: Saturday, July 14 (SPEED at 11 a.m./AT, 10 a.m./ET)
Final Practice: Saturday, July 14 (SPEED at 1:30 p.m./AT, 12:30 p.m./ET)
RaceDay: Sunday, July 15 (SPEED at 2 p.m./AT, 1 p.m./ET)
Countdown to Green: Sunday, July 15 (TNT & TSN-HD at 4 p.m./AT, 3 p.m./ET)
Race: Sunday, July 15 (TNT & TSN-HD at 5 p.m./AT, 4 p.m./ET)
- Tony Stewart won the USG Sheetrock 400, his 30th victory in 303 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
- Stewart remains 20th on the all-time wins list.
- This is his first victory and 12th top-10 finish in 2007.
- This is his second victory and fifth top-10 finish in seven races at Chicagoland Speedway.
- Matt Kenseth (second) posted his 13th top-10 finish in 2007 and his third in seven Chicago races.
- Carl Edwards (third) posted his first top 10 in three races at Chicago and his seventh of 2007.
- Jeff Gordon finished ninth and continues to lead the 2007 point standings. He has led the point standings
since Bristol and is now 303 points ahead of Denny Hamlin.
Event Stats PDF files unless otherwise noted
Saturday First Practice
Saturday Final Practice
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: USG Sheetrock 400
The Place: Chicagoland Speedway
The Date: Sunday, July 15
The Time: 4 p.m. (ET)
TV: TNT, 4 p.m. (ET)
The Track: 1.5-mile oval
The Distance: 400 miles, 267 laps
The Purse: $6,056,938
2006 Winner: Jeff Gordon
2006 Pole: Jeff Burton
Pre-Race Schedule (local/CT time): Friday—Practice, 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. Qualifying—3:10 p.m.; Saturday—Practice, 9-9:50 a.m. and 12:20-1:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Standings: click here
- Casey Mears won the Bud Pole for the USG Sheetrock 400 with a lap of 29.580 seconds, 182.556 mph.
- This is his third Bud Pole in 163 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races. His most recent Bud Pole was in
August 2004 at Indianapolis. Mears’ other Bud Pole, his career-first, came the previous week at Pocono.
- This is his first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in 2007.
- This is Mears’s first Bud Pole and third top-10 start in five NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Chicagoland
Speedway. He also had one Busch Pole and two top-10 starts in three NASCAR Busch Series races
- Martin Truex Jr. (second) posted his career-best starting position with his eighth top-10 start of 2007 with
a lap of 29.593 seconds at 182.476 mph. It is his first top-10 start in two races at Chicago. Truex had one
top-10 start in his three Chicago races in the NASCAR Busch Series.
- Ryan Newman (third) posted his fourth top-10 start in six NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Chicago. He
started from the Bud Pole in both of his NASCAR Busch Series races.
- Mark Martin (fourth) posted his sixth top-10 start in his 14 races this season. It is his best ever start in
seven Chicago races.
- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (fifth) scored his best starting position in seven Chicago races and his second top-10
start. He started ninth in his previous best Chicago start and had started 25th in each of the last three
- Dave Blaney (15th) was the fastest of the drivers required to make the field on time.
- Paul Menard (16th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualifying include: Scott Riggs, Brian Vickers, Dale Jarrett, AJ Allmendinger, Kevin Lepage, and Kenny
Keys to Winning...
Chicagoland Speedway joined the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series schedule in 2001, making it the youngest track on the circuit. The track continues to mature with each race. Here is what to watch for on Sunday:
Green Flag Notes...
- Groove – The groove continues to widen, making Chicagoland a track where you can run two or three wide. The 2006 race was decided by 0.461 seconds; look for another close finish in 2007.
- Curved Backstretch – The backstretch is unique, in that it has a slight curve to it that other 1.5-mile tracks do not. This makes for good passing down the backstretch.
Photo Gallery - Sunday, July 15 - race day
- Raybestos Rookie Standings - Juan Pablo Montoya (No. 42 Wrigley’s Big Red Dodge) continues to lead the Raybestos Rookie of the Year standings over David Ragan (No. 6 AAA Insurance Ford).
Montoya has three top-10 finishes this season, including his win at Infineon Raceway. Ragan finished fifth in the Daytona 500, his only top 10 of the season.
Paul Menard (No. 15 Menard’s Chevrolet) has made four of the last five races after missing four of the previous nine.
- Manufacturers’ Standings - Jamie McMurray’s win Saturday night was the third of the season for Ford, which trails Chevrolet by 50 points in the Manufacturers’ Standings. All three victories are by Roush Fenway Racing – Matt Kenseth won at Las Vegas and Carl Edwards (No. 99 Office Depot Ford) won at Michigan.
Chevrolet has 14 victories, led by four each for Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson.
Dodge is third, 60 points out of the lead. Juan Pablo Montoya has the sole win for the manufacturer.
Toyota is currently fourth, 94 points behind Chevrolet. Brian Vickers finished fifth at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, the highest finish for Toyota this season.
- Jamie McMurray’s (No. 26 Crown Royal Ford) win on Saturday night did more than return him to Victory Lane for the first time in 166 races. The victory catapulted McMurray into 13th place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series standings, just 49 points out of 12th – the final position in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup.
McMurray had struggled of late, finishing 24th or worse in three of the previous five races. However, he was able to gain 135 points on 12th place Dale Earnhardt Jr. (No. 8 Budweiser Chevrolet) who finished 36th after a Lap 14 accident.
With eight races left until the Chase begins, the field is far from set. At the same point in 2005, Matt Kenseth (No. 17 USG Ford) was 16th in the standings, 202 points out of a Chase berth. He put together six top-10 finishes, including a win, heading into the Chase to earn a spot.
“I think everybody in the top 15 thinks they are going to make the Chase,” McMurray said. “If you’re within a couple hundred points, you feel like you can make that up. I think we’re running well enough to make it, but you can’t make any mistakes or have any failures.”
Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith give the start engines command to the field...
Tony Stewart prepares for the race...
Car Edwards makes a pit stop...
Matt Kenseth leads a pack of cars; Kenseth finished second...
After winning, Tony Stewart climbed the fence to the flagstand...
Then saluted the fans...With his helmet on...
And with his helmet off...
Then went on the Victory lane celebrations...
Photo Gallery - Friday, July 13 - qualifying
Tony Stewart readies for qualifying; resulting in a lap that put him 19th on Sunday's starting grid...
DEI teammates Dale Earnhardt Jr. (left) and Martin Truex Jr. (right) after their qualifying laps; Truex will start second and Earnhardt Jr. fifth...
Jeff Gordon climbs from his car after making his qualifying laps; he'll start 11th...
Casey Mears won the Bud Pole for Sunday's USG Sheetrock 400. More pix at the end of this page...
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