2010-09-09 / Sports

Stewart Gets First Win Of Season

By Gerald Hodges

HAMPTON, Ga. – Tony Stewart won for the third time at Atlanta and for the 38th time in his career when he beat Carl Edwards to the checkered flag, to break a 31- race winless streak for the two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.

Stewart led eight times for a race-high 176 laps in the 325-lap contest to score his first victory since winning last October at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.

Jimmie Johnson was third, followed by Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer

Stewart’s teammate, Ryan Newman, bounced back twice from adversity to post an eighth-place finish.

Newman jumped two spots – from 15th to 13th – but only gained one point on Clint Bowyer, who holds the 12th and final Chase position. With one race remaining before the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship begins, Newman trails Bowyer by 117 points.

Juan Montoya and Marcos Ambrose rounded out the top 10.

Polesitter Denny Hamlin led seven times early for 74 laps but his engine blew on Lap 143 and he finished 43rd.

“I was just pacing myself out there, having fun and racing with Tony and those guys,” Hamlin said. “We’ve really got a strong race team, and if we can just keep it together, we can really win this championship legitimately. We’ve just got to keep it together, and we’ll be all right.”

Greg Biffle fell short in his attempt to lock into the Chase when contact from Newman’s Chevy sent Biffle’s Ford sideways into the Turn 3 wall. Biffle slid across the track and took out Elliott Sadler. Though Biffle returned to the track after extensive repairs, he finished 36th, 80 laps down.

Biffle is 11th in points, 161 ahead of Newman, and can lock up a spot in the Chase with a finish better than 43rd next Saturday at Richmond.

Series points leader Kevin Harvick had one of the fastest cars in the field, but blew a tire on Lap 255, and shredded the fender. He finished 33rd.

Top-15 Chase leaders with only one race left before the Chase begins. Only the top-12 leaders will make it. 1. Harvick-3585, 2. J. Gordon- 3366, 3. Kyle Busch-3325, 4. Stewart-3302, 5. Edwards- 3288, 6. Burton-3261, 7. Johnson 3247, 8. Kurt Busch-3228, 9. Kenseth-3225, 10. Hamlin- 3147, 11. Biffle-3110, 12. Bowyer-3066, 13. Newman- 2949, 14. McMurray-2938, 15. Martin-2919

McMurry gets Atlanta nationwide win

Jamie McMurray held off Kyle Busch and stopped Busch one spot short of a historic win Saturday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

McMurray led 43 of the final 47 laps, including the last 23.

Busch is tied with Sam Ard for the series’ single-season wins record with 10.

Carl Edwards ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth. Joey Logano, Jason Leffler, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. completed the top 10.

Top-10 points leaders after 26 of 35: 1. Keselowski- 4127, 2. Edwards-3795, 3. Kyle Busch-3576, 4. Allgaier-3385, 5. Menard-3309, 6. Harvick- 3073, 7. Bayne-2946, 8. S. Wallace 2715, 9. Logano-2872, 10. Leffler-2866

Bodine thanks Busch for dirty driving

Todd Bodine continues to roll toward his second Truck series championship, as he took Friday’s race at Kentucky Speedway over Johnny Sauter.

Bodine spun while battling Kyle Busch for the lead on Lap 81 of the 150-lap race, but that trouble helped set up a fuel-mileage gamble for his No. 30 Germain Racing team.

During Lap 80, Busch and Bodine were racing side by side for the lead in Turn 3 when Busch charged around on the outside lane. Bodine spun sideways in front of the field, though he didn’t hit anything.

A panel in the truck’s bed flew off, and Bodine made a couple of extra stops under that caution for his team to repair the damage. He restarted 25th.

After stopping again for fuel on Lap 95, Bodine raced the final 55 laps under green on one tank of fuel.

“I thought that was kind of low, but that’s how Bodine is. ... It was just a matter of hard racing, I thought,” Busch said during an interview at Atlanta. “If he doesn’t want me racing him that hard, maybe next time I’ll lift.”

Busch was attempting to join Fred Lorenzen (1964), Richard Petty (1971), Bobby Allison (1971) and David Pearson (1973) as drivers who have won five consecutive NASCAR events, regardless of series.

Aric Almirola, Jason White, Ricky Carmichael, Timothy Peters, Busch, Ryan Sieg, Austin Dillon and Matt Crafton rounded out the top- 10.

Top-10 points leaders: 1. Bodine-2898, 2. Almirola- 2637, 3. Sauter-2580, 4. Peters 2533, 5. Hornaday-2461, 6. Dillon-2458, 7. Crafton- 2458, 8. Skinner-2334, 9. Starr- 2254, 10. White-2133

FYI: The following article appeared in the Daytona Beach News Journal:

NASCAR is in the process of turning its public relations unit into an integrated marketing communications department.

Three areas that will see greater communications resourcing and organizational focus include: brand and consumer marketing; digital and social media strategy and activation; and strategic collaboration with industry stakeholders.

I’m hoping that someone will explain to me what NASCAR is really up to.

Fans I talk with seem to think they should focus more on the actual racing.

Weekend racing: The Cup and Nationwide teams are at the .75-mile Richmond Raceway. This will be the last race for the Cup drivers before the 10-race Chase for the 2010 Sprint Cup championship begins. The Trucks have an off weekend.

Fri., Sept. 10, Nationwide Series Virginia 250, race 27 of 35; starting time: 7 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.

Sat., Sept. 11. Sprint Cup Richmond 400, race 26 of 36; starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: Where is Elliott Sadler’s hometown?

Last week’s question: The NASCAR Rookie of the Year was instituted in 1957. Who was the first driver to be named Rookie of the Year? Answer. It was a driver named Ken Rush, from High Point, N.C. His NASCAR career ran from 1957 until 1964. His best finish was a second at Winston Salem, N.C., in 1959.

You may contact the Racing Reporter at: hodgesnews@ earthlink.net

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