The Lugnut Report: Tony Stewart Battles For Top 20 Finish

Patti RodischAnalyst ISeptember 13, 2009

RICHMOND, VA - SEPTEMBER 12:  Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Office Depot Chevrolet, makes contact with Reed Sorenson, driver of the #43 Reynolds Wrap Dodge, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 12, 2009 in Richmond, Virginia.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

Tony Stewart has nothing to lose, he has been locked in the Chase for a couple races now. So going for a win is all that matters.

Stewart has been leading the standings for the last couple months, after the race Saturday his lead that he had built would be gone.

The weekend though started off on Friday and Stewart ran a fast lap of 22.1 seconds on lap three of the 76 he ran in the first practice. That time put him 12th on the speed charts.

When happy hour began the agendas were mix some drivers were working on qualifying setups and others were working on race setups. Stewart ran his fastest lap of the practice of 21.8 at just over 123 mph on his final lap.

They had a late qualifying draw of 30th but struggled with qualifying and wound up starting 29th.

As the race started he moved his way up to 24th but the car was a little tight, but in traffic that could work to their advantage.

After a early caution they were mired back in traffic but Stewart was silent on his radio as he and his spotter worked traffic.

He was tight in the center and loose off around lap 30, but he was moving forward and working traffic well.

On lap 44 Stewart, Reed Sorenson and David Stremme tangled racing side by side for position. Stewart went a lap down, the team made sure no sheet, metal could cause a tire rub after the restart.

With an air pressure adjustments, and wedge adjustments, the team left the pits in 35th one lap down.

Stewart came on the radio and apologized to his crew, for his mistake.

Stewart got the lucky dog with a debris caution on lap 106. They hit pit road made a track bar adjustment and an air pressure adjustment.

In that run Stewart was running faster than the leaders until that debris caution came out.

On the fifth caution for debris, they continued making track bar adjustments, he came out in 23rd.

By lap 240, Stewart was up to 17th although the handling was still an issue; he was having trouble turning in the center, but still was faster than the leaders.

After a slow stop on lap 282, the team came out of the pits in 19th, after a dropped lugnut cost them eight spots.

Stewart started to climb forward but was out of contention just after halfway as he couldn’t fight the car in traffic.

Ina scary incident late in the race, Stewart was leaving his pits he ran into one of David Reutimann crew members. Flipping him in front of the car,the crewman was okay.

This team has been struggling since his win at Watkins Glen. Not what you want to do with the 10 biggest races of the year ahead of you.

They finished 17th on Saturday night but it was not the finish they were looking for. They have the next week to regroup and get focused on the chase.

This team is a threat to win it all, but the way he ran tonight can’t happen in the Chase.

Stewart will start second in the championship standings.

Check out Jen Preston's Lugnut Report on Kevin Harvick.


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