NASCAR Cup Series
The Hot Pass: Only the beginning for Stewart-Haas
NASCAR Cup Series

The Hot Pass: Only the beginning for Stewart-Haas

Published May. 17, 2009 6:44 a.m. ET

For Tony Stewart, it was just a matter of time.

With finishes of fourth or better in five of the last six races, Stewart crept closer to winning each week.

On Saturday night, Stewart finally pulled off the win in the Sprint All-Star Race at Lowe's Motor Speedway.

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No, it wasn't a points race. No, he wasn't battling against the class of the field — his Hendrick allies Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were for all intents and purposes out of contention after both spun in unrelated accidents in the final 10 laps.

Still, Stewart's ability to pressure Matt Kenseth, pass the No. 17 for the lead with three laps remaining and extend his advantage at the finish line by 0.971 of a second is proof that the No. 14 Chevrolet can compete against the big boys.

But Stewart wasn't alone. His teammate Ryan Newman started from 12th and made it to second, but was doomed when a tire rub ended his night with seven laps to go. Stewart very graciously admitted, "It should have been Ryan Newman here first."

"We weren't that good until the last run," Stewart said. "(Crew chief) Darian Grubb made some awesome calls there at the end to get us where I could drive that thing the way I could. Man, it was fast."

Both Stewart-Haas Racing cars were so stout in the final segment that it could have been a showdown between teammates — a scenario that will definitely be repeated in the future. Currently, Stewart and Newman are second and eighth in points, respectively.

Stewart certainly caught Kenseth's attention. Kenseth, who finished second, wasn't surprised by Stewart's success at all.


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