• 54°

NASCAR: Stewart wins

By Dan Gelston
Associated Press
LOUDON, N.H. ó Tony Stewartís season has gone from winless to winning streak at crunch time.
Donít ask Smoke to explain it.
While Chase drivers around him run out of gas, Stewart has the fuel to go the distance and inject the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship with a dose of dominance that has him a formidable front-runner for a third title.
Stewart smoked ëem again and made it 2 for 2 in the Chase, pulling ahead when Clint Bowyer ran out of gas with two laps left to win at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday.
ěYou donít see it coming,î Stewart said.
Only a few weeks ago, Stewart considered his car in the Chase a waste of a spot. Bad runs, bad luck, bad everything.
Seems like a different a season.
Stewart is on a roll with eight races left, building on last weekís Chase-opening victory at Chicagoland Speedway with another strong late-race surge at New Hampshire. Both of his victories this season have come in the Chase and have propelled him to the top of the points standings.
The outcome was a complete reversal of the race at New Hampshire last fall, when Stewartís tank ran dry a lap from the checkered flag and Bowyer pounced for the victory.
ěIf thatís not a flip-flop from last year, I donít know what is,î Stewart said over the radio as he crossed the finish line.
Stewart had called this season a ěmiserable yearî before getting hot in the final two races before the Chase. He was third at Atlanta and seventh at Richmond ó just a little sneak preview of what was to come in a Chase he has absolutely owned, this one on a track he loves. In 26 career starts at Loudon, Stewart has three wins and 16 top-10s.
Stewart overtook Kevin Harvick for the points lead and made himself the car to beat after a rather pedestrian regular season. Even Stewart counted himself out him before the Chase, declaring he would call himself, ěa total bumbling idiot,î if he won the championship. He might win his third title ó but donít expect Smoke to call himself a favorite.
ěGot eight long weeks still, man,î Stewart said. ěItís way too early to start counting chickens.î
How about counting wins?
Stewart, who won Cup titles in 2002 and 2005, is the second driver to ever open the Chase with consecutive victories.
ěThe potentialís been there all year,î he said. ěYou wonder when the bad luck string is going to stop. You hope (good luck) happens another eight weeks now. We hope weíre through with it and we can keep clicking off top-fives, top-10s. If we could get a couple of more wins, that would be awesome.î
Stewart led a pack that included four other Chase drivers in the top 10.
Brad Keselowski was second, Jeff Gordon was fourth, Matt Kenseth was sixth and Carl Edwards finished eighth. Gordon rocketed from 11th to sixth in the standings and is still a legitimate contender for his fifth championship.
Gordon ran out of gas last week and was forced to conserve fuel over the waning laps at New Hampshire.
ěItís something that we need to be better at,î he said.
For at least one Chase driver, itís time to start planning for next season. Denny Hamlin, who entered in 12th and a whopping 41 points out, finished 29th and was the worst Chase finisher.

Comments

Comments closed.

BREAKING NEWS

District attorney won’t bring charges against former Salisbury officer depicted in K-9 video

Coronavirus

Cooper plans to lift gathering, distancing limits by June 1

Crime

Convicted sex offender charged with having child pornography

Crime

Rowan County woman faces drug crimes for gas station incident

Crime

Blotter: Thousands of dollars in lumber taken from Newsome Road house

Local

Locals react to Chauvin verdict, reflect on work still to do

Business

‘Believe me, they’ll be fresh’: Patterson Farm welcomes strawberry crop

Business

With remote expansion, outsource provider FCR looks to become an ‘exceptional part’ of Rowan community

Local

City expects $1.5 million surplus in current budget, ability to raise some wages for police, public works

Education

Enochville Elementary to host farewell event May 1

High School

High school softball: Carson beats West in a wild one

College

Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will speak at NC State graduation

High School

Wonders, Trojans facing off Monday on Cannon Ballers’ field

Local

City approves two apartment developments, more than 160 new units

Nation/World

Crowds react with joy, wariness to verdict in Floyd’s death

News

Bill seeks to end pistol purchase permits from NC sheriffs

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees 300th death attributed to COVID-19

News

Chauvin convicted on all counts in George Floyd’s death

Local

Top North Carolina House finance chair, Rowan representative stripped of position

Crime

One charged, another hospitalized in fight between cousins

Local

Bell Tower Green renamed to honor Stanbacks; Nancy Stanback receives key to city

Business

Commissioners green light additional houses at Cherry Treesort in China Grove

Education

A.L. Brown will hold in-person, outdoor graduation

Local

Granite Quarry awards FEMA contract for Granite Lake Park