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Stewart Gets Third Win of Season - Stretches Point Lead
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (Aug. 10, 2009) — Tony Stewart’s dream season continued unabated in Monday’s rain-delayed
Heluva Good! at the Glen.
After a major adjustment early in the race got Stewart’s No. 14 Chevrolet handling the way the NASCAR Sprint Cup
Series points leader wanted, Stewart held off Marcos Ambrose during a 17-lap run to the finish and crossed the finish line
2.969 seconds ahead of the Australian road-course ace.
The victory was Stewart’s fifth at Watkins Glen International, his third of the season and the 36th of his Cup career. Stewart opened his lead in the series standings to 260 points over polesitter Jimmie Johnson, who finished 12th after spinning off the course in Turn 1 late in the race.
The second-place finish was Ambrose’s series-best to date, improving by one position over his results at the Glen last year and at Infineon Raceway in June. Carl Edwards came home third after a strategic run from the 33rd starting position.
Kyle Busch ran fourth, and though he remained 13th in the standings, he trimmed his deficit in points to 12th position — now occupied by Monday's 14th-place finisher Matt Kenseth — from 101 to 58 points with four races remaining before the field for the 12-driver Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup is set Sept. 12 at Richmond.
From Stewart’s point of view, making changes to the car under caution on Lap 19 was a critical juncture in the race.
“Our crew did an awesome job on the pit stop,” said Stewart, who led the last 24 laps after out-braking Busch into Turn 1 after a restart on Lap 67 of 90. “We had asked for a lot of changes there — and a lot of lengthy changes. Our guys did a great job of getting us in and out of the pits there, and we never lost very much track position, so we were able to make it up. We had a fast car today.”
Stewart’s car was fast enough to withstand pressure from Ambrose, who dogged Stewart until the final two laps, when the driver of the No. 47 Toyota backed off to conserve fuel.
“I was watching him,” said Stewart, who will clinch a spot in the Chase when he takes the green flag Sunday at Michigan. “There were parts of the track where we were stronger than he was and parts where he was stronger than us. But I think we were stronger in the parts of the track that we needed to be to hold him off, if he got any closer.”
Ambrose said the setup of his car wasn’t quite right for a track that became hotter and slicker on Monday, after rain on Sunday washed the rubber from the racing surface.
“We missed it just a little bit,” said Ambrose who was trying to complete a double at the Glen after winning Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series race. “I thought our car in practice on Saturday was better than what we had today.
“It was on the edge the whole time. If I had the perfect line — did everything just right — I could get away with it. But the track was slick. We were slightly aggressive on our setup for it. We didn’t really get a chance to tune on it, either. I think we only changed a quarter-pound of tire pressure all day because we were pitting under green and didn’t have time to do anything to it.”
Jeff Gordon, third in the standings, took a major hit in points after taking a major hit on the racetrack. After contact from Kasey Kahne, Sam Hornish Jr.’s No. 77 Dodge bounced off the tire barrier at the exit of Turn 5 and back across the track into Gordon’s No. 24, ending the race for both drivers on Lap 63.
Gordon finished 37th, and though he retained third place in the series standings, he fell 342 points behind Stewart. The accident, which also involved Jeff Burton, Andy Lally and Joey Logano, caused a 19-minute, 35-second stoppage while track workers cleaned debris from the crash.
Unofficial Race Results click here
Unofficial Driver Point Standings click here
Race Recap Video click here
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Juan Pablo Montoya shields his son and daughter from the rain Sunday at Watkins Glen...
Just Another Rainy Sunday...Cup Race Reset For Monday
WATKINS GLEN, NY (August 9, 2009 at 5 p.m.) - NASCAR officials have postponed the Watkins Glen Sprint Cup Series race until Monday due to
rain falling in the area since just before the green flag was scheduled to fly this afternoon. NASCAR policy states they will not start a race
when they don't have a realistic shot at completing the advertised distance so even though the end of the rain was near when the race was postponed, it
was clear that after the two hours it would take to dry the track night would fall before the full race could be completed.
Monday's green flag is scheduled for 1 p.m. AT.
Green Flag Fast Facts
The Race: Heluva Good! Sour Cheese Dips at The Glen
Sunday, August 9 Monday, August 10
The Track: Watkins Glen International; 2.45-mile road course
3 p.m. AT 1 p.m. AT
The Distance: 90 laps/220.5 miles
TV: ESPN & TSN, 2 p.m. AT
Radio: MRN Radio and Sirius Satellite
2008 Polesitter: Kyle Busch
2008 Winner: Kyle Busch
Schedule: local track time...Friday—Practice, 11:45 a.m.-1:20 p.m.; Qualifying, 3:10 p.m.; Saturday—Practice 12-12:45 p.m., 1:20-2:20 p.m.
Year-To-Date Results & Point Standings click here
Practice, Qualifying, Starting Lineup & More...
Jimmie Johnson won the Coors Light Pole Award for the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen
(23rd Running) with a lap of 71.340 seconds, 123.633 mph.
Complete Starting Lineup click here
- This is his 20th pole in 277 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races.
- This is his first pole and 17th top-10 start in 2009.
- This is his first pole in eight races at Watkins Glen International.
- Kurt Busch (second) posted his 12th top-10 start of 2009 and his sixth in nine races at Watkins Glen
- Denny Hamlin (third) posted his fourth top-10 start at Watkins Glen International. It is his 10th in 22
races this season.
- Max Papis (16th) was the fastest qualifying rookie.
- Drivers that failed to qualify include: Joe Nemechek, Brian Simo and David Gilliland.
The No. 55 NAPA Toyota NASCAR Sprint Cup Series crew had to roll out a backup after Patrick Carpentier was involved in an incident Friday during practice.
(Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
*Does not reflect adjustments that may be made prior to the race start because of the cars that need to go
to the rear of the field due to engine and/or transmission changes or practice wrecks...
- Stewart, Gordon the Real Road-Course ‘Experts’ at Watkins Glen...With a trip to historic Watkins Glen International next on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule for Sunday’s Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at The Glen, plenty of talk will center on the road-course “experts” who annually challenge the NASCAR regulars on the 2.45-mile circuit.
Yet to find the most successful drivers at The Glen, look no farther than two of the top three drivers in the series standings. Tony Stewart (No. 14 Old Spice Chevrolet) and Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) share the lead in victories at the circuit with four apiece.
Gordon won his four races over a five-year span. He won his first of three consecutive triumphs in 1997, and added a victory in 2001. He has six top-five finishes at The Glen, eight top 10s and two poles. He’s led nine of 16 races for 227 laps.
Stewart scored his first Watkins Glen victory in 2002, winning four times in six years (2004-05 and 2007). He has six top fives and eight top 10s, with an average finish of 5.7. Stewart led six of 10 races for 191 laps, and placed second in last year’s race, 2.275 seconds behind Kyle Busch( No. 18 M&M’s Toyota).
In addition to his victories at Watkins Glen, Stewart also won twice at the other road course on the Sprint Cup Series schedule, Infineon Raceway, in addition to finishing second there in June following an exciting battle with Kasey Kahne (No. 9 Budweiser Dodge). Stewart, who has a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup all but locked up, can conceivably clinch this weekend. He needs to have a 781-point lead over 13th-place leaving Watkins Glen to guarantee himself a spot in the Chase. Currently, his lead over 13th-place Kyle Busch is 726 points.
“While both road courses, the two tracks are still pretty different,” Stewart said. “At Watkins Glen, you don’t have to finesse the throttle near as much as you do at Sonoma. When you get the car turned, you can get in the gas and then stay in the gas. Watkins Glen is much faster than Sonoma. I think there are the same amount of passing opportunities, but because of the speeds that you’re able to run at The Glen, brakes become a much bigger factor than I think they are at Sonoma. It’s pretty much a horsepower track.”
- Busch Looks to Return To Chase, Take Advantage Of Bonus Points...With three victories in the 2009 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, Kyle Busch could be near the top of the standings when the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins at New Hampshire. That’s because Chase drivers have their point totals reset to 5,000, and they then get 10 bonus points for each pre-Chase victory – creating Chase “seedings.”
But first, Busch has to make the Chase to the NASCAR Sprint Cup. With five races to go in the “Race To The Chase,” Busch is 13th in the standings, 101 points behind 12th-place Greg Biffle (No. 16 3M Ford).
In addition, Brian Vickers (No. 83 Red Bull Toyota), Clint Bowyer (No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet) and David Reutimann (No. 00 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota) are within 20 points of Busch, looking to leap-frog their way into the Chase.
Reutimann knows how tenuous making the Chase can be. He was running in contention in Monday’s event at Pocono Raceway, only to tangle with eventual winner Denny Hamlin and finish 29th, falling from 13th to 16th in the championship.
Busch will be looking to make a charge in the opposite direction this weekend. He was NASCAR’s road warrior in 2008. Prior to his victory at The Glen, he won the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway and the NASCAR Nationwide Series event in Mexico City. He started the Watkins Glen race on the pole after qualifying was rained out, and led four times – including the final 26 circuits.
Busch qualified second at Infineon Raceway in June, and managed to lead 10 laps early in the event. He went on to finish 22nd.
- Said, Fellows, Lally Lead List of ‘Specialists’...Back in the 1960s, road racing “specialists” annually took advantage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series regulars in their annual visit to the old Riverside (Calif.) International Raceway. Dan Gurney won five races at the circuit – including four in a row – while Parnelli Jones and A.J. Foyt also came home winners.
While Mark Donohue continued that trend in January 1973, that marked the final time that a specialist won in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Bobby Allison won the next race at Riverside, followed by Cale Yarborough, Richard Petty and David Pearson.
Today, a new generation of NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers dominate NASCAR’s road course action. This weekend, at least seven non-regulars will look to turn back the clock and bring home a victory at Watkins Glen.
Ron Fellows, Boris Said, Max Papis, Patrick Carpentier, P.J. Jones, Brian Simo and Andy Lally seek to become the first non-regular to win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since Donohue.
Fellows has come the closest with three top-four finishes at The Glen, including seconds in 1999 and 2004. The Canadian also has won three NASCAR Nationwide Series races and a pair of NASCAR Camping World Truck Series races at The Glen.
Lally hopes to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut this weekend. He will attempt to qualify the No. 71 TRG Chevrolet, while David Gilliland – the usual driver of that car – will drive the No. 70 TRG Motorsports Chevrolet for team owner Kevin Buckler. Lally tested at both Virginia International Raceway and New Jersey Motorsports Park in preparation for this weekend. In addition, he will have three practice sessions at The Glen on Thursday in the Porsche GT3 he drives for Buckler in the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series.
The race will be the first NASCAR event at The Glen to utilize double-file restarts. Kurt Busch (No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge), who had already placed Turn 1 among his top-five “action-packed turns” in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing, feels that turn may be worthy of a No. 1 ranking after this weekend. … “It’s all relative to the new double-file restarts,” Busch said. “We all saw – and experienced – what the double-file restarts did to the racing at Sonoma. It was wild out there. It bit me, but it worked in our favor late in the race.”
- Johnson Not Quite ‘Superman’ On Road Courses...“Trying to beat that guy is like trying to beat Superman,” Mark Martin (No. 5 Carquest/Kellogg’s Chevrolet) said after losing to Jimmie Johnson (No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet) in the recent Brickyard 400. “Look at the results they get. From the sheer number of successes they’ve had to the incredible comebacks that just are almost beyond belief. They certainly rebound consistently better than anybody in the series for several years now.”
But if Johnson is NASCAR’s ‘Superman,” the Kryptonite for the defending three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion has been the road courses – where he has yet to win.
"We’ve made a lot of progress at Bristol (Motor Speedway) and at Infineon (Raceway),” Johnson said. “I had a speeding violation and was able to drive up through all the cars and find myself in fourth. So I think we're making great gains. I'm becoming much more aware of what these cars need on road courses. We were very fast at the race last year at The Glen, so I think we have a shot; our best shot yet."
Johnson realizes that California road-course success does not always carry over to the New York Finger Lakes circuit.
"The speed is the first thing that comes to mind,” Johnson said when asked about the difference between the two road courses on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule. “The speed of Watkins Glen is so much higher. But also the track is so much wider and the corners are low and much more sweeping, which gives you that speed. So they are two totally different approaches."
Sunday will be Johnson’s eighth NASCAR Sprint Cup start at Watkins Glen. He’s scored three top-five finishes and four top 10s, with an average finish of 13.1. He’s also led four races for a total of six laps.
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