The Chase to Earn Miami Glory on Nov. 21 has Begun

Tony Stewart Runs out of Fuel at Loudon

Tony Stewart’s late race gamble came up empty and allowed Clint Bowyer to grab the third victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career (photo courtesy; Elsa, Getty Images Sport)

2-time Sprint Cup Series champ Tony Stewart’s late race gamble came up empty and allowed Clint Bowyer to grab the third victory of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career and first of 2010. Stewart looked to be in position to make a jump in the standings by winning at New Hampshire and claiming the first race of The Chase but his gas tank ran dry with only two laps remaining.  Bowyer inherited the lead and made the most of the opportunity by holding off a fast-closing Denny Hamlin

More importantly the race at New Hampshire kicked off the first of the final ten events which will culminate with the crowning of a Sprint Cup Series Champion at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Stewart, Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and six other of NASCAR’s biggest stars are all fighting to knock 4-time defending Sprint Cup Series champion Jimmie Johnson from the top of the podium and be named Sprint Cup champion.  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. Parking is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

Stewart was coming off of Turn 4 and had the white flag in his sight when he suddenly slowed. Stewart ended 24th and dropped to 11th in the Chase and simply stated, "Just ran out."

He was then asked his thoughts on coming so close to victory only to fall short and he summed it up by saying, “It sucks.”

Bowyer was very surprised to see Stewart run out of fuel on the penultimate lap. "I could not believe it. And then I thought I was going to run out," Bowyer said. "As soon as you see him run out, you're wondering when it's your turn then. It happened in the burnout, thank God."

"It reminded me so much of 2007," said Bowyer. "You know, two weeks ago, going into Richmond, your feeling the confidence level in our race team, in our equipment level, everything was good."

Championship points leader Hamlin was second in the No. 11 car and gave Bowyer a fight for the win on the last lap.

"I needed one more lap," said Hamlin. "We gained a ton right there. It's tough to say, once he ran out of fuel -- the way they were running, I'm not sure how much they were conserving if any, but our cars with a really fast the last run, and obviously the fastest car on the track."

After winning his sixth Sprint Cup Series race of the year at Richmond and following it up with a runner-up finish last week, Hamlin sits at the top of the standings for the Chase for the 2010 Sprint Cup Championship that will be crowned at Homestead-Miami Speedway on Nov. 21.

For Bowyer it was an improbable victory, even though he still would have had a podium finish, and he leaves Loudon second in the Championship points standings.

"I know we have what it takes. We have the equipment. We have the race team," said Bowyer. "It's up to us to get it put together. Kevin Harvick has done a good job all season long of showing RCR's potential of getting it all, not just the start of the race, the middle of the race, but the finish. And you know, if we can match what he's done 26 races in, somebody at RCR can win this championship."

NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth ahead of Harvick, who has been one of the favorites to win the Sprint Cup trophy at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. 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. Parking is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

“I think if we had the track position, we were as fast as the No. 14 (Tony Stewart) at times and the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray) and all those guys that were up there battling for it at the end,” said Earnhardt Jr.

Bowyer gained the most in moving from 5000 to 5195 and into second place following his victory. Harvick stayed third and Kyle Busch remains in fourth. Kyle’s brother Kurt Busch dropped to sixth with four-time NASCAR Champion Gordon moving to fifth. Gordon is in the hunt for his fifth overall Championship but first since the inception of the Chase format which will be decided at Homestead-Miami Speedway Nov. 21. Defending champion Johnson finished a disappointing 25th and currently sits in seventh.  Edwards gained and now is eighth while teammate Greg Biffle sits ninth. Jeff Burton is 10th in the Chase and Stewart sits 11th followed by Matt Kenseth.

Next up for the Sprint Cup drivers is Dover on Sunday, Sept. 26 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN and MRN Radio)—Race 28 of 36 en route to Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway (Nov. 19-21). For tickets starting at $55, call (866) 409-RACE or log on to THEChampionshipTrack.com. Parking for Ford Championship Weekend is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

On the Move: South Florida’s Montoya

Montoya Slips at Loudon

“We had the speed but the Energizer Chevy had some front end damage which didn’t help our handling.”

--Juan Pablo Montoya, after recording a 16th place finish at Loudon en route to Ford Championship Weekend (Nov. 19-21) on his “home track.”

South Florida resident Juan Pablo Montoya started from the fifth position and would overcome handling concerns and damage to the front of the No. 42 Chevrolet to finish in the 16th position.

Montoya was hoping for a repeat performance from his visit to New Hampshire one year ago after he in 2009 became the first non-American born driver ever to qualify for NASCAR’s Chase “playoffs”.  Montoya came into last year’s first Chase race in dominant fashion by leading all practice sessions, nabbing the pole and then leading 105 laps before settling for a third-place finish.  The fifth place qualifying run marked the ninth consecutive Top 10 starting position for Montoya.

Montoya quickly worked his way up to his race-high position of second by Lap 2 and would flirt with the Top 15 for the remainder of the race. As the laps progressed the handling of the No. 42 Chevrolet became slightly more challenging.  Left front fender damage and damage to the splitter due to on-track incidents put a hindrance on the performance of the No. 42. Montoya and the Energizer crew worked during the remainder of the race to get the handling turned around and gain valuable track position.

“We had the speed but the Energizer Chevy had some front end damage which didn’t help our handling,” Montoya remarked.  “Track position is so important and when we did get it handling better we were too far back in the field. We’ll move on to the next race.”

The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is winding down with only eight races remaining before a Champion is crowned in Miami on Nov. 21. Next up for Montoya and the Sprint Cup drivers is Dover on Sunday, Sept. 26 (1 p.m. ET, ESPN)—Race 28 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. And keep in mind that parking for Ford Championship Weekend is free, and fans are welcome to bring in their own food and drink in a 6x6x12 cooler—with unlimited re-entry to the Speedway to allow for restocking from tailgates.

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