Tony Stewart Wins At Las Vegas Motor Speedway
March 12, 2012 by staff
Tony Stewart Wins At Las Vegas Motor Speedway, One year ago Tony Stewart had a dominant car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway only to see victory slip away on pit-stop strategy that backfired.
“We had the fastest thing on the planet,” a crestfallen Stewart said then, “and we just gave it away.”
Not so Sunday, when Stewart was just as fast and the reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion vindicated last year’s setback by winning the Kobalt Tools 400, his first win at Las Vegas.
“Just an awesome day,” Stewart said. “Our car was so, so strong today on the restarts. That was a big key in holding these guys off.”
Jimmie Johnson, the five-time champion who was driving a back-up No. 48 Chevrolet after crashing his primary car in practice, finished second and Greg Biffle was third in front of an estimated 150,000.
Stewart’s teammate Ryan Newman was fourth and defending race winner Carl Edwards finished fifth.
Stewart repeatedly shot ahead on restarts following several late caution periods in the 267-lap race, leaving Johnson, Biffle and the others helpless to catch his No. 14 Chevrolet.
“It was clear the 14 car had more power than we did,” said Biffle, who drives a Roush Fenway Racing Ford. “It’s been a long time since I’ve seen a car that fast.”
Stewart, whose nickname is “Smoke,” is known for starting slowly each season. But winning the third race this season was an early reminder of how he won five of the 10 races in NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup playoff last year to earn his third title.
“The spring historically has not been our strong suit,” Stewart said. But he said erasing another track from his winless list was more satisfying.
There are now two tracks on the Cup schedule where the 40-year-old Stewart hasn’t won: Darlington (S.C.) Raceway and Kentucky Speedway.
“That’s what makes today so special, not so much the time of year we’re getting it, just the fact we finally got this one,” he said.
Sunday’s victory also was Stewart’s first since hiring crew chief Steve Addington this year to replace Darian Grubb.
Grubb was released from Stewart-Haas Racing — the team Stewart co-owns — despite helping Stewart to last year’s crown.
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