October 5, 2009
By Ron Felix
Two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart won the Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway on Sunday by holding off a hard charging Jeff Gordon.
On the final caution and restart with 26 laps to go, Stewart had two new tires while Gordon took four.
Stewart called it “a gutsy call” and added, “But I'm not going to question him. I had something left at the end, but I didn't leave too much out there.”
At the very least it was a great call to take two tires and it put Stewart at the front of the field, leaving Gordon restarting in 12th spot. Gordon worked his way to the front and was closing in on Stewart when the race ended but he ran out of tires and laps.
It was Stewart's fourth victory this year, and his second win at Kansas Speedway. It is Stewart's 37th victory in 385 career Sprint Cup Series races.
CIA Stock Photos
Stewart Wins Fourth Race This Year
"We got two tires at the end there, and Darian (Crew Chief Grubb) made a great call getting two, and the guys had an awesome stop," Stewart said. "That was really what it boiled down to. We got that track position at the end, and we had the luxury of being able to pick the inside or outside lane on the restart, and I kind of debated back and forth which side I needed to be on.
"I kind of struggled when I was stuck on the bottom on restarts today. So I took a gamble and went to the top and got enough of a lead on Kasey (Kahne) to get down to the bottom by the time we got to Turns 1 and 2 and was able to run our line, and we got enough of a gap right off the bat that it gave me the flexibility to run my own line, run my own pace and let those guys have to worry about catching us."
Greg Biffle, who led the most laps (113 of 267) finished third and Juan Pablo Montoya battled to finish in fourth place.
Biffle had the car to beat for two-thirds of the race but on long runs it would fade on him.
“It’s quite a bit of emotion for us today because we really, truly have not been running up to standard this year," Biffle said, admitting to the mistake of taking four tires on the the final caution. "So, at one point late in the race there, it looked like we were going to have this thing won fairly easily, depending on how the cautions fell. We were able to beat them on the re-starts. So that was real exciting for our team to run like that. And, then a little letdown at the end when I put four on, and probably just half a round a wedge or one round a wedge, I would have been right there. I know what I did wrong. I know I made a mistake."
Denny Hamlin nailed down the fifth spot and was followed by Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, David Reutimann, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards to round out the top ten. At one point in the race Edwards was running awful and even a top ten didn't seem possible.
“No, it didn’t seem like it was going to happen at all," said Edwards. "It’s good that we made it back up, but it’s still a frustrating day. I thought Greg was going to win it; it’s too bad that he didn’t, but we did run better and that was good. That was good.”
Mark Martin maintained his points lead over Johnson by 18 and 51 over third place Montoya.
"We finished as high as we could," said Martin. "We raced our guts out and that's what you've got to do in all of them and see how they (points) tally up."
Nine of the top-10 finishers -- Reutimann being the lone exception -- were among the 12 drivers eligible for the Sprint Cup. The other three Chasers were 11th (Kurt Busch), 22nd (Ryan Newman) and 37th (Brian Vickers, now 250 behind and virtually eliminated from championship contention).
The race featured 14 different leaders and 28 lead changes, both new track records. The race was slowed by six cautions for a total of 23 laps.
Scott Speed finished 27th, one spot ahead of Joey Logano and was named Rookie of the Race. It is the seventh time this year that Speed has garnered the honor.
Stewart's victory clinched the 2009 Manufacturers’ Championship for Chevrolet in NASCAR’s premier division. With seven races left on the 2009 Sprint Cup tour, Chevrolet has now collected its 33rd Manufacturers’ crown, the most ever by any automobile manufacturer in the sport.
The Manufacturers' Cup has debuted in 1950. It is presented to the automobile manufacturer whose current models in NASCAR Sprint Cup competition earn the most points for a win (9 points), second (6 points), third (4 points), or fourth-best (3 points) finish. A manufacturer earns the points in relation to how the other manufacturers finish.
Five different Impala SS drivers have contributed to the 15 victories thus far this year to bring Chevrolet this honor. Team Chevy drivers who have posted wins during the season to date include Mark Martin (5), Jimmie Johnson (4), Tony Stewart (4), Jeff Gordon (1), and Brad Keselowski (1). Additionally, top finishes by Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, and Juan Pablo Montoya have given Chevrolet the points required to claim this title.
This marks Team Chevy’s seventh consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup Manufacturers’ title for the Bowtie Brigade. The 2009 Manufacturers’ Championship continues Chevrolet’s dominance of North America’s most popular racing series.
The race featured 14 different leaders and 25 lead changes, both new track records.
The Sprint Cup Series moves to Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, California, next Sunday, October 11th, for the Pepsi 500.
The race will also be broadcast live on MRN Radio and SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.
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