Tony Stewart Wins Action-Packed Centurion Boats at The Glen
Chevrolet. Taking the green again on lap 26, Jamie McMurray led P.J. Jones, Patrick Carpentier, Jeremy Mayfield and Dale Jarrett, none of whom had pitted during the caution. 2003 race winner, Robbie Gordon, pit from the 29th position, for fuel on lap 31. Leader Jamie McMurray pit on lap 32. Patrick Carpentier would take over the lead in his very first NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race. Carpentier headed for the pits on lap 38, giving up his lead to Stewart who had just passed Jeff Gordon in turn 10 of the previous lap. On lap 39, #5 Kyle Busch spun coming out of turn 11 after getting a nudge from the #99 Ford of Carl Edwards. With absolutely no visibility in turn 11, officials threw the yellow, slowing the field. At the halfway point, Tony Stewart led Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin. However, going into turn one on lap 45, Stewart lost control of the rear end of his machine and spun in turn one, coming to a complete halt at the side of the track and dropping to 19th position. Lap 52, Reed Sorenson spun in turn one as a cluster of cars battled for position. Just as NASCAR was deciding whether to throw the yellow flag for Sorenson’s stalled car, Juan Pablo Montoya made a move to the inside of Jimmie Johnson entering turn 11. The contact caused Johnson to spin, bringing out another caution. All the leaders headed for pit road for service on lap 53, knowing that this was nearly within the window for finishing the race. Bobby Labonte inherited the lead for one lap, followed by Jeremy Mayfield for a lap, both drivers having stayed on the track during the last caution. Jeff Gordon passed Mayfield entering the Inner Loop on lap 61. By lap 62, the top 6 were #24 Jeff Gordon, #2 Kurt Busch, #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr., #99 Carl Edwards, #11 Denny Hamlin and # 42 Juan Pablo Montoya. Former leader Patrick Carpentier pit for fuel-only on this lap as well. Just after the track went green again, Clint Boyer and Ryan Newman hit each other and spun in turn one and third-placed Dale Earnhardt Jr. slowed dramatically in turn one. His Chevrolet would only make it as far as the Inner Loop, having suffered his 4th engine related DNF of the season. During the ensuing caution, Kurt Busch headed for the pits. Unfortunately, he would be penalized for speeding while leaving pit lane, removing any strategic advantage he had gained from his pit stop. Busch would finish 11th. The green flag waved again on lap 67 with the running order being Gordon, Edwards, Hamlin, Montoya, Stewart and Harvick. Stewart passed Montoya in turn one on the restart. During a thrilling, action-packed sequence on lap 68, Stewart went three wide with Hamlin and Edwards running up through the Esses. As they all came to the Inner Loop, Hamlin lead while Stewart overshot the first right-hander, slipping passed Edwards. Hamlin slid off the track at the second left-hander of the Inner Loop, crossing the grass. As Hamlin returned to the track Stewart pulled along side, the two cars running side-by-side through turn 9. Stewart then out-braked Hamlin going into turn 10. However, just as those three were battling in the Inner Loop, Kyle Petty’s machine blew its engine in a big way, dumping oil all over the track at the exit to the Esses. NASCAR threw the yellow just as Stewart was passing Hamlin. At the same time, Matt Kenseth hit a spinning Paul Menard as they raced through the Esses. Officials set the running order as Gordon, Hamlin, Stewart, Edwards as the cars circulated behind the pace car. At this point, defending race winner Kevin Harvick had worked his way up to 5th place, just ahead of former Formula One driver Juan Pablo Montoya. As the green flag waved on lap 73, Sonoma winner Montoya ran all the way to the inside pit wall in an attempt to defend his position against #1 Martin Truex Jr. Under braking, Truex hit the back of Montoya’s Dodge. No longer under control of his machine, Montoya ran into the side of
Kevin Harvick’s Chevrolet. A spinning Harvick would collect Jamie McMurray and Montoya slid into the path of Jeff Burton, ending both their races. Not knowing that Montoya had been pushed into a spin by Truex, and feeling that he still had a legitimate shot at winning the race, Harvick climbed out of his car looking for the Columbian driver. With a clear difference of opinion on the reason for the crash, Harvick and Montoya got into a pushing and shouting match that had to be broken up by NASCAR officials. With so much debris and fluid strewn all over turn one, NASCAR officials red-flagged the race. The remaining cars were stopped on the straight between turns 9 and 10. Following a 30 minute red-flag period, the race was restarted on lap 78. Tony Stewart got a great run down the front straight and passed Denny Hamlin in turn one. Carl Edwards also got a run on those two and they battled fiercely, running side-by-side, nose-to-tail, on the track and off for the next two laps. On lap 80, Hamlin hooked the curb in the inner loop, took to the grass and almost spun. He was just able to maintain his lead over Edwards. A bit further down the field, Kurt Busch nudged P.J. Jones into a spin into the gravel trap, stranding the #00 Burger King machine in the gravel trap and bringing out the seventh caution of the afternoon. The green flag waved again with 8 laps to go. Gordon was able to maintain his lead for the lap, but Edwards slipped past Hamlin into third. With 5 laps to go, the running order was #24 Gordon, #20 Stewart, #99 Edwards, #11 Hamlin and #48 Johnson. On lap, 86, #96 Ron Fellows slipped past #7 Robbie Gordon for 6th place. Although #38 David Guilliland spun in turn one, and Ragan Smith spun in turn 10, the race was not slowed since both drivers were able to continue. Jeff Gordon made one mistake all day and it cost him the race. With two laps to go, Gordon spun his DuPont Chevrolet in turn one, dropping him all the way to 9th place. Tony Stewart led 20 of the 90 laps, which featured 9 lead changes among 6 drivers. Jeff Gordon continues to lead the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Point standings ahead of Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards.
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