Where There's Smoke, There's Victory: Tony Stewart Wins At Pocono

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Where There's Smoke, There's Victory: Tony Stewart Wins At Pocono
(Photo by Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR)

Matt Kenseth has done it. So have Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski.

But not since Ricky Rudd did it more than 10 years ago has an owner-driver won a race.

Until today.

After a practice crash forced him to a back up car, Tony Stewart came back and won the Pocono 500 at Pocono Raceway.

"You guys made me look like a damn genius," Smoke told his crew as he ran out of gas crossing the start/finish line.

The 500-mile race, the first to debut the double-file restart "shootout style" saw five cautions, but it was pit strategy that saw Stewart make it to Victory Lane.

Starting in the back, it took the 2002 and 2005 Series champion just 37 laps to make it up to the top 10, and he led during a set of green flag pit stops on lap 77.

He wouldn't leave the lead pack for the rest of the race, and led the final 37 laps, after taking the lead after a great pit stop on the final stops at lap 159.

It was his 34th victory of his career. Stewart's last win came 19 races ago at Talladega Superspeedway, when he drove for owner Joe Gibbs.

He has increased his points lead over Jeff Gordon, who finished fourth, to 71 points.

"This has been an awesome weekend," Stewart said in Victory Lane. "It's always different when it's your own."

Smoke also had his father to the pits. An early Father's Day present, Nelson Stewart was in Pennsylvania to witness his son's first points win as an owner-driver.

Stewart won the Sprint All-Star race this past May for his first trip to Victory Lane in his No. 14 Old Spice/Office Depot Chevrolet.

Teammate Ryan Newman finished fifth after having a spark plug problem, which the team fixed without him losing a lap to the leaders at lap 116, when they pitted six times.

Sam Hornish, Jr. also came home with a top 10, his third of the season. Kasey Kahne, the highest running Richard Petty Motorsports Dodge finished 15th, after recovering from a throttle problem on lap 14.

Stewart's former teammate Denny Hamlin had problems beginning on lap one, when he lost all power in the car. After attempting to come back on the track 12 laps later and bringing out another caution, Hamlin ended up finishing 22 laps down in 38th, but stayed in the Chase, 364 points behind Stewart.

Carl Edwards, who finished second, said he was "sure he (Stewart) would run out of gas just like Jimmie (Johnson, who finished third) did." Edwards was beaten off pit road by the Stewart Haas No. 14 crew on the finally pit stop of the day on lap 159.

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