COMPLETE SYLVANIA 300 RACE RESULTS
Sylvania 300 Recap
Call it irony, poetic justice or just plain old racing luck.
A year after having victory snatched away on the closing lap of the Sylvania 300 when he ran out of fuel, Stewart returned the favor to Clint Bowyer on Sunday and in the process leaped to the top of the Chase for the Sprint Cup standings.
“That is not the way you want to win it for sure,” who became the first driver since Greg Biffle in 2008 to open the Chase with two straight wins. “We’re in the Chase now and we have to get everything we can get. I feel bad for him. It is fun racing him. I mean, he had the better car there at then. Our only chance was to catch him in lapped traffic. Head-to-head, he was a little better than we were. It is hard to lose them that way…”
Stewart has lost race the same way so there won’t be much time spent on feeling sorry for Bowyer.
But Stewart also won’t focus too much time on his lot in the championship race or his quest for a third Sprint Cup title. Although he’s off to the best possible start, Stewart knows all too well how long the road is to winning a crown.
“One day at a time like we’ve done for 31 years of our racing career,” Stewart said. “The philosophy of how to win races and championships doesn’t change from week to week, you do the same thing. It starts on Friday and you take it one day at a time.”
That approach has worked well for Stewart over the last month, as he’s put together a solid streak that first carried him into the playoffs and now has shot him to the top of the standings.
“The last four weeks have been awesome,” Stewart said. “We’ve got a tough hurdle ahead of us next week at Dover. We really struggled there and that’s the one race in the Chase that I’m worried about most. So this is the best scenario we can have going into it. Our guys are pumped up and I am proud of Darian (Grubb, crew chief) and these guys. They never give up. So we are going to keep digging for these next eight weeks.”
Even with a perfect Chase going, Stewart isn’t taking anything for granted.
“We have eight long weeks still, man,” he said. “It’s way too early to being counting chickens right now.”
He may very well be right. But at the very least Stewart has all his eggs in the right basket right now.
Refuses to fade out of championship picture and for the second straight week played the fuel game well to finish second behind Stewart. While strategy has helped Keselowski get the Chase off to a good start with two straight solid finishes, he’s also had fast racecars and the chemistry with crew chief Paul Wolfe is really starting to become one of the best in the series.
One of those drivers that needed a bounce back from Monday’s fuel hiccups in Chicago and was able to rebound from a 24th to open the Chase with a fourth on Sunday. Gordon might have had an even higher finish but had to throttle back to save fuel in the closing laps. Speed not an issue with the No. 24 team but fuel calculations need to be sharpened up in the coming weeks.
Like Gordon Kenseth had to have a turnaround from the Chicago frustration in New Hampshire. However it almost turned out to be a disastrous day for Kenseth when he was punted by Roush Fenway Racing teammate Carl Edwards and spun around just past the halfway mark. An impressive charge back to the front of the field resulted in a sixth place finish and a return to the title picture.
Came about two laps shy of redeeming himself after Monday’s 31st place finish in Chicago. Hamlin appeared headed to potentially a Top 5 finish until he came up short on fuel and coasted home 29th. His championship hopes were on life support coming into Loudon and the plug was pulled on Sunday. The No. 11 team will use the last eight races of the season to tune up for 2012.
Appeared on his way to a second straight Sylvania 300 win until the winds of fate intervened. After inheriting the lead from Stewart running out of fuel on the final lap last year to go to victory lane, Bowyer had the roles reversed in 2011 and a potential first win of a long season was snatched away by the fuel game on Sunday.
The July New Hampshire winner started the weekend with a pole-winning performance and had his sights set on at least a Top 10 finish on Sunday. But a tire went down in the closing laps sending Newman to pit road and out of contention. He wound up 29th in the final rundown and plummeted to 11th in the Chase standings in the aftermath.
(Choice comments and communications from drivers and crew chiefs)
"If that's not a flip-flop from last year, I don't know what is.” – Tony Stewart
“This is a joke. This is a joke. Again, this is a joke.'' – Kyle Busch
"We're going to be a #&%^*& half a track behind when they pit." – Kevin Harvick
"I truly was doing everything I could to stop." – Carl Edwards after making contact with teammate Matt Kenseth
"We need to get ready to not be on stage in Vegas again." – Kurt Busch
“Just let me do my *##*(@ thing.'' – Jimmie Johnson to Chad Knaus about his “annoying” cheerleading
On a scale of one to five "Pistone Pistons" I’ll give Sunday’s Sylvania 300 a three. After a pretty sedate opening third business picked up with some hard driving and frayed emotions around the midway point. Then as has been the case all season no matter where the series races, fuel mileage and pit strategy kicked in and the intrigue began. Story lines were all over the place in the final twenty laps before the ironic ending of Bowyer running out of fuel to give the win to Stewart – a complete reversal of last year’s race – played itself out. Smoke has started the Chase in the best possible way and the championship picture is off to an interesting beginning
DOWN THE ROAD
“The Monster Mile” is next for the Sprint Cup Series as the Chase heads to Dover International Speedway for round three of the championship season. Jimmie Johnson flexed his muscles there in last season’s Chase stop as Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin waged war on one another. No reason to believe fuel mileage and pit strategy won’t again be part of the equation next Sunday and in fact I’d plan on that pretty much every week for the rest of the season.
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