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TONY STEWART - 2014 New Hampshire I Race Report
Tony Stewart endured an up-and-down day in the Camping World RV Sales 301 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, and when the checkered flag dropped, Stewart was on his way up. The driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) rallied from 19th to seventh in the race’s last 50 laps to score his sixth top-10 this season and his 18th top-10 in 30 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.
“We went from holding our own at the beginning of the race to getting pretty beat up out there,” said Stewart, who qualified fourth, his best starting spot since winning the pole for the April 26 race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. “Finally, we just made a big change to get the front end of the car to bite. We honestly didn’t know how well it would work, but it beat running 20th.
“The car responded well. It still wasn’t what we wanted, but it was better. We were able to drive back toward the front, but we got sort of hung up there when we got behind Kasey (Kahne). I just couldn’t get around him.”
Stewart was aided greatly by Justin’s Allgaier’s late-race misfortune. The rookie driver smacked the turn four wall on lap 299, setting up a green-white-checkered finish. A handful of drivers in front of Stewart didn’t have enough fuel to make it to the end.
Stewart lined up 10th for the final restart, and with some drivers running out of fuel or, at least, sputtering because their cars had very little fuel, Stewart was able to pick off three spots in the final, two-lap dash to the finish.
“We have some work to do on our short-track program, but we salvaged a decent finish today,” Stewart said.
Stewart’s teammates also endured an up-and-down Sunday at New Hampshire.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 18th and finished 17th after leading one lap.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 29th and finished 22nd.
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 12th and was running second on the final restart but ran out of gas and finished 30th.
Brad Keselowski won the Camping World RV Sales 301 to score his 13th career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at New Hampshire.
Kyle Busch finished .750 of a second behind Keselowski in the runner-up spot, while rookie Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman rounded out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 35 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 305-lap race, which was extended four laps by the green-white-checkered finish.
With round 19 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is 13th with 528 points, 142 behind series leader Jeff Gordon. Stewart is 19th with 502 points, 168 out of first. Kurt Busch is 25th with 440 points, 230 out of first. Patrick is 27th with 380 points, 290 out of first.
Sprint Cup teams will enjoy their second and final off-weekend of the 2014 season before embarking on a slate of 17 consecutive races, beginning with the July 27 Brickyard 400 at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The 21st running of the event begins at 1 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its prerace show at noon.