Stewart caught up in 13-car wreck early at Dover

The parade of wreckers entering the garage hauled the dented and

busted remains of cars belonging to Tony Stewart, Landon Cassill,

David Gilliland, Juan Pablo Montoya and other drivers that ended

their shot at victory before the race really got going.

So much for the dry spell of big wrecks in Sprint Cup.

The series had its biggest pileup of the season with 13 cars the

casualties of an accident on the ninth lap triggered when Stewart

made contact with Cassill’s left rear and sent him into the wall.

Regan Smith rammed into Stewart and nine other cars plowed into

them Sunday at Dover International Speedway.

Smith and Stewart both took the blame for the accident on the

backstretch.

Smith said he didn’t have time to slow down and avoid Stewart.

Stewart said it wasn’t Smith’s fault.

”The No. 83 (Cassill) was trying to get back down to the bottom

and we were just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Stewart

said. ”It wasn’t Regan’s fault. He was right behind us and he

didn’t have anywhere to go either. Just not a real good deal at the

beginning of the race like this.”

Casey Mears, Travis Kvapil, Michael McDowell, Dave Blaney, Scott

Speed, Stephen Leicht, Reed Sorenson, and Joe Nemechek all were

involved. There was a mangled mess of cars in the garage and crew

members pounded away at sheet metal trying to salvage a return.

Montoya drove down pit road with the hood of the No. 42 positioned

straight up. Most cars did return to the concrete track.

Stewart finished 25th, Smith was 27th, and Montoya 28th.

Gilliland, Speed, McDowell, Mears and Nemechek never returned.

Cassill said he never felt Stewart touch him.

”When the 14 is behind me, and he’s going to make a pass, I’m

going to let him go,” Cassill said. ”You want those guys to pass

you. I hate it for Tony. I hate it for all the guys.”

The race was red flagged.

Major wrecks and yellow flags have become a rarity in NASCAR

this season. There was another when Carl Edwards was involved in a

single-car wreck on lap 165. Edwards’ front right tire went flat

and he smacked into the wall.

—–

TOUGH LUCK, GORDON: Jeff Gordon had another fast car at Dover.

Maybe the best one, too.

But again, Gordon ran into some misfortune that cost him the

victory Sunday.

Gordon led 60 laps midway through the race and was poised to

give Hendrick Motorsports teammate and race winner Jimmie Johnson a

challenge down the stretch. Gordon, though, said the No. 24 felt

”weird” because of a wheel issue and had to make an early pit

stop. He would later zip into first once the rest of the leaders

made their scheduled pit stops.

Gordon, though, got stuck when a debris caution came out and he

finished 13th. Gordon is 21st in the points standings and he needs

wins starting as soon as next week at Pocono Raceway if he has any

shot at making the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship.

”The fastest car doesn’t always win the race,” he said.

”We’re sitting here in 13th. It’s silly.”

—-

BUSCH’S DAY: Kyle Busch did not finish at Dover and was 29th

after the No. 18 Toyota suffered an engine issue.

Busch ended his streak of four straight top-five finishes and

appeared headed toward another strong finish.

”We were biding our team trying to see if we couldn’t keep up

with the race track,” he said.

—–

BIG 4-0: Dover Motorsports president Denis McGlynn said tough

economic times are keeping fans away from the Monster Mile.

McGlynn said severely slashed ticket prices caused an uptick in

sales, but revenues were down. McGlynn said some short-term pain in

the coffers was worth it if the track can start to rebuild

attendance. The track used to pack in over 100,000 fans for both

Cup races, but attendance was thin Sunday.

”We have to help rebuild this audience,” McGlynn said.

”What’s going on in the grandstand now is all to do with the

economy. Our customers are working guys, and if they’re not

working, they can’t afford to do this. That’s why we’re trying to

be helpful with the ticket prices.”

McGlynn said corporate hospitality has dwindled to almost

nothing at Dover.

NASCAR estimated the race drew 85,000 fans – 3,000 more than

last year’s May race.

McGlynn is celebrating 40 years at Dover where he started as

director of public relations. McGlynn has been president and a

director of both the motorsports and gaming companies in Dover

since 1979, and has served as CEO since the companies went public

in 1996.

He serves on the NASCAR Hall of Fame voting panel.

His proudest moment was NASCAR’s return to the track at Dover

after 9/11.

”I still have trouble talking about it because I get all choked

up,” he said. ”Back then, we had 133,000 people here. It was just

unbelievable. Of course, Junior winning at the end and carrying the

flag around was just icing on the cake.”