Tony Stewart Wins in Vegas
LAS VEGAS — One year ago at this very same track Tony Stewart dominated the race only to finish second to Carl Edwards. A bad decision on pit strategy led to the second place finish and may have been the genesis of the change that brought Steve Addington to the #14 team. That change on the pit box led to a pit decision to take two tires and get off pit road ahead of the field to pick up Stewart’s first victory of 2012.
The day started off looking like Dale Earnhardt, Jr. would break his win less streak. Junior led 70 laps in the early going but after being mired in traffic after an early pit stop Junior went on to finish in 10th place. Jimmie Johnson made the run from starting 40th to taking the lead on lap 99 and led for 35 laps and wasn’t able to get by Stewart in the closing laps and settled for a second place run. Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth looked strong but faded to finish 11th and 22nd.
Tony Stewart made his intentions known on a late restart when he went three wide onto the apron to go from third to first.
“We all took off at the same time and I had enough of a gap to let myself get that run on him. As soon as we got that line, it’s got a really nice transition from the racetrack to the apron. You can use it. Gave us room to go underneath him there.” Stewart said.
Given that this is a track that Stewart hadn’t won at in 14 races was this a special win for him?
“It is. Just an awesome day. We felt like after Happy Hour yesterday we had a really good, solid, fairly balanced race car. That’s probably the best I felt leaving Happy Hour in a long time.” Stewart said.
A bad pit decision cost Tony the victory last season a good pit call made the difference today. Steve Addington was asked about that final pit decision and how clean air and track position played into that decision.
“That was where it came down to the call there to put two or four on. I figured some guys were going to do that. I figured a lot more would do it. If we went for four, we would be back to seventh or eighth, not have it.(track position)” Addington said.
With the win Stewart moves into seventh place in the point standings. With a third place run Greg Biffle moves into the points lead with Kevin Harvick occupying third. Denny Hamlin, who came into Vegas with the points lead, finished 20th and fell to third in the point standings.
The Sprint Cup Series heads to one of the most exciting short tracks on the series schedule in Bristol next Sunday for the Food City 500.
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