Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Driver Finishes 14th in AAA 400
Date: Sept. 28, 2014
Event: AAA 400 (Round 29 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Start/Finish: 15th/14th (Running, completed 399 of 400 laps)
Point Standing: 26th with 639 points
Winner: Jeff Gordon of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
Tony Stewart turned in a solid performance in Sunday’s AAA 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Dover (Del.) International Speedway by finishing 14th in his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR). It was his 12th top-15 result of the 2014 season.
Stewart started the race from 15th in the 43-car field and noted early on in the race that while the car was handling tight in the center of the turns, it was better upon exit. The Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops machine had decent balance around the 1-mile, concrete oval, and it allowed Stewart to make steady progress, as he climbed to 12th place within the first 50 laps.
A handful of minor adjustments on the team’s first pit road stop while under caution on lap 62 seemed to give Stewart what he needed to make a run for the top-10 – something he achieved after making a pass for 10th-place on lap 168.
After flirting with the top-10 during the first half of the race – climbing as high as seventh after a quick pit stop during a caution on lap 125 – Stewart settled into a comfortable pace, running 12th at the halfway point and through the next several laps of the 400-lap event.
As the laps wound down, the tight-handling condition on the No. 14 Chevy seemed to intensify. Complicating the matter for Stewart was that the car didn’t respond as he tried different lines around the high-banked oval, with Stewart noting that the car felt like it would “leave the track.” He went on to make the most of the situation through the final laps of the race to earn the top-15 finish.
Leading the way at Dover for SHR was Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS. Harvick started from the pole and led twice for a race-high 223 laps until a broken valve stem caused his left-front tire to go flat on lap 252. The unscheduled pit stop dropped Harvick to 21st. He battled back to finish 13th, securing his 20th top-15 result this season.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet for SHR, finished 18th. The Dover race marked Busch’s 500th career Sprint Cup start.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 25th. It was Patrick’s 75th career Sprint Cup start and her fifth at Dover.
Jeff Gordon won the AAA 400 to score his 92nd career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his fifth at Dover.
Brad Keselowski finished 4.352 seconds behind Gordon in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top-five. Kyle Larson, Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were five caution periods for 23 laps, with three drivers failing to finish.
As the third race in the 10-race Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Dover served as the first elimination race. The 16-driver field was whittled down to 12 after the AAA 400, advancing the Chase from the Challenger Round to the Contender Round.
Harvick and Kurt Busch came into Dover representing SHR in the Chase, but Harvick is now SHR’s sole representative after Busch missed the cut for the Contender Round by a scant six points. Harvick, along with the 11 remaining Chase drivers, all had their respective point tallies reset to 3,000. Harvick is joined in the Contender Round by Keselowski, Gordon, Logano, Johnson, Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the fourth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Hollywood Casino 400 on Oct. 5 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City. The race begins at 2 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a prerace show at 1 p.m.