NASCAR Race Report

Tony Stewart wins Bass Pro Shops 500 at Atlanta
 Octover 29, 2006

ATLANTA -- Tony Stewart, NASCAR’s defending champion, might not be in the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup this season, but he remains a threat to win week in and week out. He won Sunday, passing leader Dale Earnhardt Jr. a few laps from the finish to capture the Bass Pro Shops 500.Jimmie Johnson also passed Earnhardt to finish third. Earnhardt held off matt Kenseth for third by about one foot.Earnhardt, who raced with the leaders throughout the race, stayed on track when the final caution waved with less than 20 laps to go. All of the other frontrunners chose to pit for new tires.

Greg Biffle wound up fifth. Trailing Biffle was Jeff Gordon, who salvaged an outstanding finish after spinning halfway through. Carl Edwards was seventh, Denny Hamlin eighth, Joe Nemechek ninth and Robby Gordon 10th.

Mark Martin, in contention all day, was a victim of a multi-car crash that involved nearly a dozen cars. He slammed into the wall as cars spun around him but the accident knocked him from a top 10 finishing position to 36th.

Kasey Kahne was also involved in an accident and finished 38th. Two other Chase contenders, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, had terrible days, finishing 31st and 27th, respectively.

With just three races remaining in the season, Kenseth returned to the top of the standings, followed by Johnson, who is only 26 points behind, Hamlin, Earnhardt and Jeff Burton, who finished 13th. Harvick is sixth, Gordon seventh, Martin eighth, Kahne ninth and Busch 10th.

The series moves to Texas Motor Speedway next Sunday.

Hard-luck Kyle Busch looped his Chevrolet on the second lap to bring out the first caution flag of the 325-lap race.

Tony Stewart, who qualified 11th, streaked away to a comfortable lead once the race restarted, leaving no doubt in anyone's mind the Home Depot Chevrolet was going for broke on this sunny autumn afternoon.

Earnhardt Jr., who vowed to take extra chances that might move him up in the Chase standings, ran with the leaders before a flat tire sent him to the pits at 33 laps.

He was back up front after the third caution for debris at 76 laps, with Harvick in second and Johnson third.

By the midway point of race, Stewart, Gordon, Earnhardt, Johnson and Jeff Burton were running a torrid pace, so fast more than half the starting field was a lap behind, including Chase contenders Harvick and Denny Hamlin.

On lap 169, Gordon spun and brushed the turn two wall. The four-time champion had brushed the outside wall off turn four just a few laps before after making contact with Joe Nemechek.

Kenseth was also having some problems with his DEWALT Ford but managed to remain in the top 10.

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