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Tony Stewart gets first win of year at Chicagoland

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by Rick Schenk
July 15, 2007

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Tony Stewart
Diane Schenk/AutoRacing1.com

Chevy driver Tony Stewart pulled away from Ford drivers Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards after the final caution with 12 laps to go to win his first Nextel Cup race of the year at Chicagoland Sunday in the USG Sheetrock 400. 

It was Stewart's first win since Texas last November breaking a 20-race winless streak. 

Matt Kenseth was second followed by Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Casey Mears.

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.

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.

Post-race quotes

Tony Stewart

Four times in your career you had won before the summer. This year you waited until July, scoring your second win here in Chicago

Stewart: All these Home Depot guys won us the race. They got us the track position we needed. Especially with late cautions like that. Being out front, being in clean air was everything, so every one of these guys with the Monte Carlo SS were the ones who got us in victory lane today, for sure.

Especially all you’ve gone through, all this team has gone has gone through, not winning since last fall at Texas, this has to be special for a lot of reasons, especially trying to build momentum going into Indy.

Stewart: Yeah, we had a good feeling we were going to have a good weekend. A good friend of ours had a birthday today. We always do good on birthdays for some reason. I’m glad this is over. I’m going on vacation.

How big was the motivational talk by the coach who showed up here yesterday (team owner Joe Gibbs)

Stewart: It’s good. I mean, you know, it was a bigger drama with the media than it was with the teams in all reality. We got a strong group of guys, both with the Home Depot team, the FedEx team and the Interstate Batteries team, and you know, good thing about Joe is Joe knows how to organize people and keep people motivated and keep them working together. I think Denny and I worked better today than we worked, even giving each other signals on where we thought we needed to be on the racetrack. Stuff like that will just make the team stronger each week.

MATT KENSETH
No. 17 USG Sheetrock/DeWalt Ford Fusion (finished 2nd) – “It was pretty good. I thought we had a – most of the day – a fourth- to eighth-place car, and made some really good adjustments, got the car a lot better where we could run with them. It just seemed like the 48 and the 20 were in front of us and we couldn’t quite run with them guys, but other than that, we seemed to be able to break even with most of them, depending on what track position we had. So, overall it was a good day. It feels good to come home second. I had that one shot at him and I just couldn’t quite finish the pass. If I could’ve finished that pass on the re-start, I would’ve liked to have been in front of him and tried to hold him off – I don’t know if I could’ve or not, but I would’ve liked to like that chance. It was nice to be in clean air.”

CARL EDWARDS
No. 99 Office Depot Ford Fusion (finished 3rd) – “I just had a lot of fun. I felt like I worked really hard today, I did the best job I could do. We’d work up there and then we’d have a couple of bad pit stops that really set us back. In the end, I don’t know if that really affected our day or not because we took four tires there at the end and that was kind of our strategy anyway. We thought that the four tires would be enough to win the race. There at the end we needed about 20 more laps for the tires to really work. I think Tony had a dominant, I think his car was faster than ours, but we had a little better tires so we were one little increment faster than him there at the end and we needed a lot of time to catch him. I got to race with Matt there at the end; that was pretty cool. I should’ve stayed to the high side, I think I would’ve gotten him. I tried to slide job him and that didn’t work out, but I did have a good time today.”

Post-Race Notes

  • Tony Stewart’s win was his 30th victory in 303 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races.
  • 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.
  • Out of the seven NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series races at Chicagoland, six have been won by Chevrolet, and one win by Dodge.
  • 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 10th and continues to lead the 2007 point standings. He has led the point standings since Bristol and is now 299 points ahead of Denny Hamlin who finished 17th today.

Results

FIN ST CAR DRIVER MAKE SPONSOR PTS/BNS LAPS STATUS
1 19 20 Tony Stewart Chevrolet The Home Depot 195/10 267 Running
2 10 17 Matt Kenseth Ford USG Sheetrock 175/5 267 Running
3 25 99 Carl Edwards Ford Office Depot 165/0 267 Running
4 14 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet Shell / Pennzoil 165/5 267 Running
5 1 25 Casey Mears Chevrolet National Guard / GMAC 160/5 267 Running
6 35 2 Kurt Busch Dodge Miller Lite 155/5 267 Running
7 23 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet AT&T Mobility 146/0 267 Running
8 3 12 Ryan Newman Dodge Mobil 1 142/0 267 Running
9 11 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet Nicorette / DuPont 138/0 267 Running
10 7 07 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet Jack Daniel's 139/5 267 Running
11 33 16 Greg Biffle Ford Aflac 130/0 267 Running
12 22 41 Reed Sorenson Dodge Target 127/0 267 Running
13 6 5 Kyle Busch Chevrolet CARQUEST / Kellogg's 124/0 267 Running
14 4 01 Mark Martin Chevrolet U.S. Army 121/0 267 Running
15 30 42 Juan Montoya * Dodge Wrigley's Big Red 118/0 267 Running
16 42 38 David Gilliland Ford M&M's 115/0 267 Running
17 13 11 Denny Hamlin Chevrolet FedEx Express 112/0 267 Running
18 9 45 John Andretti Dodge National Tire & Battery 109/0 267 Running
19 5 8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet Budweiser 111/5 267 Running
20 12 43 Bobby Labonte Dodge Cheerios / Betty Crocker 103/0 266 Running
21 41 88 Ricky Rudd Ford Pedigree 100/0 266 Running
22 18 70 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet Yellow Trans. 97/0 266 Running
23 37 14 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet Waste Management 94/0 266 Running
24 40 96 Tony Raines Chevrolet DLP HDTV 91/0 265 Running
25 32 6 David Ragan * Ford AAA Insurance 88/0 265 Running
26 20 36 Jeremy Mayfield Toyota 360 OTC 85/0 265 Running
27 29 66 Jeff Green Chevrolet Comcast 82/0 265 Running
28 17 21 Bill Elliott Ford Little Debbie 79/0 265 Running
29 27 13 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet CertainTeed 76/0 264 Running
30 28 55 Michael Waltrip Toyota NAPA Auto Parts 73/0 264 Running
31 26 49 Chad Chaffin Dodge Paralyzed Veterans of America 70/0 263 Running
32 24 9 Kasey Kahne Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 67/0 262 Running
33 31 19 Elliott Sadler Dodge Dodge Dealers / UAW 64/0 260 Running
34 38 40 David Stremme Dodge TUMS 61/0 257 Off Track
35 36 18 J.J. Yeley Chevrolet Interstate Batteries 58/0 243 Running
36 39 7 Robby Gordon Ford Jim Beam 55/0 225 Running
37 8 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet Lowe's 57/5 222 Out of Race
38 34 26 Jamie McMurray Ford Crown Royal 49/0 214 Running
39 2 1 Martin Truex Jr. Chevrolet Bass Pro Shops / Tracker 51/5 211 Off Track
40 15 22 Dave Blaney Toyota Caterpillar 43/0 199 Out of Race
41 43 4 Ward Burton Chevrolet Lucas Oil / State Water Heaters 40/0 197 Out of Race
42 16 15 Paul Menard * Chevrolet Turtle Wax Ice / Menards 37/0 132 Running
43 21 00 David Reutimann * Toyota Burger King 34/0 43 Out of Race

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