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TONY STEWART - 2014 Texas I Race Report
Event: Duck Commander 500 (Round 7 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 1st/10th (Running, completed 340 of 340 laps)
Point Standing: 14th (189 points, 70 out of first)
Winner: Joey Logano of Team Penske in a green-white-checkered finish (Ford)
Tony Stewart scored a solid top-10 finish in the rain-postponed Duck Commander 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Monday at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. It was his third top-10 of 2014 and his 13th top-10 in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
Stewart led the first 24 laps from the pole, the initial 10 being run under caution as NASCAR worked to confirm the track was properly dry after rain inundated the 1.5-mile oval on Sunday, which forced the race to be run on Monday.
When the green flag waved on lap 11, Stewart kept his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS at the front despite an impressive challenge for the lead from his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) teammate Kevin Harvick. Harvick led lap 25 as the two drivers raced side-by-side, with Stewart retaking the point on lap 26 and eventually pulling away.
Harvick suffered an engine failure two laps later, but even before then, Stewart was opening up an impressive advantage. By lap 40, he had a two-and-a-half second margin over second-place Carl Edwards.
Stewart relinquished the top spot during a competition caution on lap 50, where the field pitted for four tires and fuel. When the race returned to green on lap 53, Stewart resumed his perch at the front of the field.
Stewart led the next 25 laps, during which sunshine began replacing the overcast conditions that had settled over the track since Saturday morning. The track temperature rose 26 degrees, which made Stewart’s once nimble Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy tight in the middle of the track’s corners and loose on exit.
Eventually, Brad Keselowski reeled Stewart in, and he took the lead from Stewart on lap 77. Stewart wouldn’t lead again, but his 74 laps led made him the all-time Sprint Cup lap leader at Texas with 801 total laps led, 26 more than next-best Matt Kenseth.
As the handling of Stewart’s car waned, the sunny track and higher temperatures aided others. Stewart slowly dropped down the running order, hovering just outside the top-10.
No matter the changes crew chief Chad Johnston made to the Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy, the chassis setup didn’t favor the warmer racetrack. With 10 laps to go, it appeared a top-10 finish wasn’t in the cards.
But a caution on lap 334 for debris set up a green-white-checkered finish. Stewart pitted and Johnston smartly called for only right-side tires and fuel. The savvy pit call placed Stewart seventh for the final restart.
With worn left-side tires and a car that was still too tight in the corners, Stewart manhandled his Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevy in the final two laps of green-flag racing to bring home his third top-10 finish in his last four races.
“We had a really good racecar for what the track conditions were most of this weekend,” Stewart said. “I think we showed that with getting the pole on Saturday and then leading all those laps at the first part of today’s race. But the track changed a lot and the setup we had didn’t really change with it. Chad did a really good job keeping us competitive, but it was a big swing from the start of the race to the end of the race with the way the track changed. It was a really good effort and a decent finish.”
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy/Get Found Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 24th and finished 27th. It was Patrick’s 53rd career Sprint Cup start and her fourth at Texas.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 11th and finished 39th as two flat tires conspired against him.
Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, started third and finished 42nd.
Joey Logano won the Duck Commander 500 to score his fourth career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his first at Texas. He is the seventh different winner in the seven races held this season.
Jeff Gordon finished .476 of a second behind Logano in the runner-up spot, while Kyle Busch, Brian Vickers and Kyle Larson rounded out the top-five. Greg Biffle, Kenseth, Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard and Stewartcomprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 49 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 340-lap race, which was extended six laps by the green-white-checkered finish.
With round seven of 36 complete, Stewart leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is 14th with 189 points, 70 behind new series leader Gordon. Busch is 25th with 151 points, 108 out of first. Harvick is 26th with 138 points, 121 out of first. Patrick is 29th with 121 points, 138 out of first.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Southern 500 on Saturday, April 12 at Darlington (S.C) Raceway. The race starts at 6:30 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning with its prerace show at 6 p.m.