Top 5 Tony: Stewart Smokes to Victory

Carl Edwards on a Hot Streak

In the past two months, Carl Edwards and the Roush Fenway Racing No. 99 has had only one finish outside the Top 7 (12th at Bristol), including two seconds and two thirds (photo courtesy: Tom Whitmore, Getty Images Sport)

In nabbing his first win of 2010, Tony Stewart earned 10 bonus points for the upcoming Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship that culminates Nov. 21 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. The two-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion won Race 25 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend and in doing so snapped a 31-race victory with an eye toward the 2010 crown. Lock in your tickets NOW to see Championship racing at Championship value: Tickets start at $55 and are available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.

"I've never been so happy to win a race in my life—it's been awhile," said Stewart, who has now won a race in each of his 12 Sprint Cup seasons. "I forgot what it was like, it's been so long. I don't know how many races it's been, but it seems like an eternity since we won a race."

Heading into this weekend’s race at Richmond—Race 26 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21)—the final two Chase spots remain in play as the Top 10 drivers in the standings have a solid hold on NASCAR’s “playoffs.”

Stewart reached Sunday’s finish line just ahead of the No. 99 Aflac Ford driven by Carl Edwards and picked up two spots to climb to fourth in the standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship, to be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Stewart-teammate Ryan Newman gained two positions in the standings and is 117 points back of 12th-place Clint Bowyer, who holds the final spot in the Chase.

Finishing third was four-time, reigning Sprint Cup Jimmie Johnson, while Jeff Burton and Kyle Busch rounded out the Top 5. Kurt Busch, Bowyer, Newman, Juan Pablo Montoya (see sidebar) and Marcos Ambrose made up the remainder of the Top 10.

During the past two months, the arc of the season has risen considerably for Edwards and Roush Fenway Racing. In that span, the No. 99 has had only one finish outside the Top 7 (12th at Bristol), including two seconds and two thirds.

“When Jimmie and Kasey and I were racing two- and three-wide for the lead there for a few laps, there was one point I was laughing going down the front straightaway,” Edwards said. “It was just fun. That’s what racing is about is having some fun.”

Edwards is locked into the Chase for the Sprint Cup, and as one of the circuit’s strongest performers during the last eight weeks figures to be a formidable challenger to win his first Cup Championship in Miami during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 19-21. Catch Championship racing at Championship value with tickets starting at $55 available by calling (866) 409-RACE or by logging on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.

No stranger to NASCAR’s Chase for the Cup, Roush Fenway has fielded at least two cars in NASCAR’s “playoffs” each of the format’s six years of existence. In 2004, the organization won the inaugural Chase crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Matt Kenseth); and in 2005, Roush Fenway occupied one-half of the 10-car field. In addition, Roush Fenway has placed more cars in the Chase field (17) than any other racing organization.

For 2010, Roush Fenway Racing has wrapped up three slots (Edwards, Kenseth, Greg Biffle) in this season’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, occupying exactly one-fourth of the 12 spots that make up the 10-race ‘playoff’ that will decide the 2010 Sprint Cup Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway during Ford Championship Weekend Nov. 19-21.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 11 (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC TV, MRN)—Race 26 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). The Top 12 drivers in points after Race 26 qualify to contend for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship, to be crowned in Miami on Nov. 21. For tickets starting at $55, call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com.

On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya

Montoya at Atlanta

“I had a lot of fun yesterday, car was pretty good and it was sliding around a lot!!!!!”

--Juan Pablo Montoya, via Twitter

South Florida’s Juan Pablo Montoya started in the eighth position and drove the No. 42 Target Chevrolet to the team’s fourth consecutive Top 10 finish in Race 25 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). The strong qualifying effort marked the seventh consecutive Top 10 starting position for the South Florida resident.

“It’s nice, we again come to another weekend and we have another strong car,” said Montoya. “We always run good here.”

When the green flag waved, Montoya battled some handling issues but rallied back into the Top 10 by Lap 141 (of 325). The No. 42 car remained a contender for the rest of the race, running as high as third, before a late-race caution for a Brad Keselowski spin led to Montoya’s final pit stop on Lap 304 for fresh tires and fuel. He restarted in the 13th position and in the closing laps passed four cars to finish ninth.

Montoya: Did you know?

• He ran 93% (301) of his Atlanta laps in the Top 15, with an average running position of ninth
• He had the highest number of quality passes at Atlanta (75)
• In 25 starts this season, he has one win, two poles, five Top 5 and 12 Top 10 finishes
• He has a driver rating of 94.9, ranking seventh in the Sprint Cup Series, and is the only driver in the Top 10 in this category to not be in the Top 12 in points
• He leads all 2010 drivers with the least amount of times having been passed under green-flag conditions (1754) and has the highest percentage of quality passes overall (76.8%)

Next up for Montoya and the Sprint Cup drivers is Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, Sept. 11 (7:30 p.m. ET, ABC TV, MRN)—Race 26 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For tickets to see Montoya race for a Ford 400 victory on his “home track” of Homestead-Miami Speedway, visit THEChampionshipTrack.com or call (866) 409-RACE.

Follow Montoya on Twitter:

@JPMontoya

Follow THE Championship Track:

@HomesteadMiami

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