NSCS: Tony Stewart Wins Fuel Mileage Race In Chicago- Chase Gets Interesting

September 19, 2011 No Comments

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

Tony Stewart ended his season-long debacle, by winning the opening race of the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Oh, did I mention this was his first win of the 2011 season?

Without question, Stewart had one of the more dominant cars Monday, as the race was pushed back a day due to rain in the Joliet, Illinois area.

The rain couldn’t have come at a better time for Stewart, as he was suffering from a migraine most of Sunday. After a day’s worth of rest, Stewart ended his 32 race winless streak, dating back to California last October.

Stewart was able to stretch his tank of fuel to the finish, unlike many other ‘Chasers’, whom did not have the finish desired in order to kick things off for this years Chase.

So, who should be worried at this point with only nine races left? All. Stewart jumped from ninth in points to second, something that should ‘worry’ most drivers, as this is the first time this season the No. 14 teams seems to be running on all cylinders.

“It’s huge,” said a happy Stewart in Victory Lane. “We’ve had a rough year, so this is a good way to start it off.”

The rest of the top-five were Kevin Harvick, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski. All of which are in this seasons Chase.

As Chicagoland is now behind us, all of our focus will be pointed towards New Hampshire Motor Speedway next week. Dare I say Stewart-Haas Racing will be as dominant as they were there last July? It’s quite possible. Even though Ryan Newman led a 1-2 finish for SHR, Stewart is led to believe this could be another great ‘opportunity’ to take over the points lead.

Several ‘Chasers’ ran out of fuel during today’s race, including: Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jeff Gordon. All of these drivers plummeted in the final finishing order.

Junior capitalized on other’s misfortune, as he pushed for a third place finish. Today’s strong finish was not only his best finish since he finished second at Kansas 14 weeks ago, but it also bumped him from 10th in points to fifth in the standings.

Johnson finished P10, which dropped him two spots in the standings to a current eighth spot.

“I really felt like I had done enough,” Johnson said. “I don’t know what I did so desperately wrong.”

Denny Hamlin, who nearly missed the cut for the Chase, had the worst luck today out of all Chase drivers.  A vibration forced him to pit early, which dropped him a lap down from the leaders. He could never make it back, and a flat tire later sealed a disappointing 31st-place finish.

In just a span of a year, Hamlin went from nearly winning the Chase to being out of contention, something many had not expect going into Daytona earlier this season.

Unofficial Results: 

Pos. St. No. Driver Make Points
=========================================
1 26 14 Tony Stewart Chevrolet 47
2 30 29 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet 42
3 19 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Chevrolet 41
4 5 99 Carl Edwards Ford 41
5 6 2 Brad Keselowski Dodge 40
6 3 22 Kurt Busch Dodge 40
7 21 33 Clint Bowyer Chevrolet 37
8 4 39 Ryan Newman Chevrolet 37
9 25 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet 35
10 12 48 Jimmie Johnson Chevrolet 35
11 15 6 David Ragan Ford 33
12 24 4 Kasey Kahne Toyota 32
13 8 83 Brian Vickers Toyota 31
14 16 42 Juan Montoya Chevrolet 30
15 22 31 Jeff Burton Chevrolet 29
16 10 20 Joey Logano Toyota 28
17 13 78 Regan Smith Chevrolet 27
18 20 56 Martin Truex Jr. Toyota 27
19 17 9 Marcos Ambrose Ford 25
20 2 27 Paul Menard Chevrolet 24
21 1 17 Matt Kenseth Ford 24
22 9 18 Kyle Busch Toyota 23
23 28 21 Trevor Bayne Ford 0
24 23 24 Jeff Gordon Chevrolet 20
25 42 32 Mike Bliss Ford 0
26 7 16 Greg Biffle Ford 18
27 18 43 A.J. Allmendinger Ford 17
28 40 71 Andy Lally * Ford 16
29 41 13 Casey Mears Toyota 15
30 31 51 Landon Cassill Chevrolet 0
31 27 11 Denny Hamlin Toyota 13
32 29 0 David Reutimann Toyota 12
33 39 36 Dave Blaney Chevrolet 11
34 32 38 J.J. Yeley Ford 11
35 35 46 Scott Speed Ford 0
36 38 34 David Gilliland Ford 8
37 11 47 Bobby Labonte Toyota 7
38 14 1 Jamie McMurray Chevrolet 6
39 37 7 Robby Gordon Dodge 5
40 36 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota 0
41 34 30 David Stremme Chevrolet 3
42 43 37 Josh Wise Ford 0
43 33 66 Michael McDowell Toyota 1
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