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JGR Race Report - Subway Fresh 500k

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Date: April 22, 2006
Event: Subway Fresh 500k (Round 8 of 36)
Series: NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series
Location: Phoenix International Raceway (1-mile oval)
Winner: Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing
JGR Finish: Tony Stewart (2nd - running); J.J. Yeley (28th - running); Denny Hamlin (34th - running) Tony Stewart nearly went from worst to first in Saturday night's Subway Fresh 500k NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at the 1-mile Phoenix International Raceway. Stewart, who had to start 43rd because he began the race on different tires than he used during qualifying, drove his #20 Home Depot Chevrolet to a strong second-place finish in the 312-lap affair. Stewart qualified third, but due to a miscommunication amongst the team, the tires with which Stewart posted that third-place qualifying time were taken to Goodyear and destroyed. Those tires needed to be on the car when Stewart began Saturday night's race, as NASCAR mandates that the top-10 qualifiers start the race on the tires with which they qualified. Since those tires weren't available to Stewart, NASCAR had no choice but to send Stewart to last-place in the 43-car field. Why were the tires destroyed? Due to the new-for-2006 tire leasing policy implemented by NASCAR and Goodyear, used tires from practice must be turned back into Goodyear. Those tires are then destroyed and later recycled so that teams can't stockpile used tires for future testing purposes. Stewart's qualifying tires were confused for a set of Stewart's practice tires, hence the reason his qualifying tires were unavailable and the subsequent penalty by NASCAR. J.J. Yeley, driver of the No. 18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet finished 28th, while Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 FedEx Express Chevrolet finished 34th. Both Yeley and Hamlin struggled throughout the evening and finished three and 13 laps off the pace, respectively. Hamlin had a mechanical problem almost from the start, which caused him to lose several laps early, while Yeley spun on lap 212 and was hit by Brent Sherman. Stewart continues to lead the trio of JGR drivers in the championship point standings. His second-place effort kept him fifth in the Nextel Cup point standings, 77 markers arrears news series leader Matt Kenseth. Hamlin and Yeley occupy the 18th and 26th positions, respectively. Kevin Harvick scored his sixth career Nextel Cup victory and his first of the season by winning the Subway Fresh 500k. Stewart finished second, while Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards and rookie Clint Boyer secured the rest of the top-five. Kasey Kahne, Jimmie Johnson, former JGR driver Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon comprised the rest of the top-10. The next event on the Nextel Cup schedule is the April 30 Aaron's 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway. The race begins at 2:10 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by FOX.

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