Stewart gets first win of season in first Chase race
Amanda Vincent is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
After rain delayed the Geico 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Chicagoland Speedway from Sunday afternoon until midday on Monday, the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup got underway and Tony Stewart claimed his first win of the season to jump from the bottom of the Chase basement to second in points.
Winning aside, Stewart didn’t mind waiting until Monday to race.
“I had a migraine all day (Sunday), so I’m kind of glad we didn’t race,” he said.
The race on Monday turned into a fuel mileage run when the sixth and final caution of the race came out for debris with 55 laps remaining, putting teams right on the edge of their fuel windows. Martin Truex Jr. took the lead at that point in the race by staying out, thinking nobody would be able to go the rest of the way on fuel.
Everyone else pitted, though, and went into fuel conservation mode for the remainder of the race. Truex ended up making his final stop of the day under green with 15 laps remaining while everyone else stuck to their plans to save fuel and make it to the end.
Some made it, but some ran out of gas on the final lap -- including several Chase contenders who ran at or near the front most of the race. Drivers who ran out of fuel on the final lap included Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Ryan Newman, most of whom had led a significant number of laps throughout the race or at least spent some time running within the top-five.
Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were among those who were able to save enough fuel and made it to the end to finish second and third. With his second-place finish, Harvick claimed sole possession of the points lead.
“I wasn’t ever comfortable (in regards to fuel), but I knew I saved a little bit under caution,” Harvick said.
Carl Edwards finished fourth, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the top-five.
“It was really good, it was really bad, and then it was pretty good,” Edwards said of the way the handling of his car changed throughout the race.
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