Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Driver Rallies to 11th-Place Finish in AAA Texas 500
Date: Nov. 2, 2014
Event: AAA Texas 500 (Round 34 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth (1.5-mile oval)
Start/Finish: 6th/11th (Running, completed 341 of 341 laps)
Point Standing: 25th with 774 points
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports in a green-white-checkered finish (Chevrolet)
Tony Stewart turned in a solid performance Sunday by finishing 11th in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), scored his 14th top-15 result of 2014 after starting sixth in the 43-car field.
Stewart noted early in the race that his racecar was handling tight in the center of the track’s corners. The Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 machine had decent balance around the 1.5-mile oval, but lost grip as the race progressed.
Crew chief Chad Johnston made a small wedge adjustment during a lap-43 pit stop while under caution, and after restarting in 11th, Stewart said that his car would start off a run okay before losing grip. The race went green for 130 straight laps, giving the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 team limited chances to make needed adjustments. As a result, Stewart fell to 22nd and then lost a lap to the leaders on lap 145.
Stewart continued to race hard in an attempt to regain the lost lap, and he got a lucky break on lap 224 when the caution flag waved for debris in turn one. The team used the opportunity to employ a wave-around strategy to return to the lead lap. The gamble paid off as another caution quickly followed on lap 242.
Johnston and the team continued to work diligently on Stewart’s ill-handling racecar, but he was stuck in 20th place until the team again used pit strategy to gain position. On lap 297, when the caution flag flew for an accident in turn one, Johnston told Stewart to remain on the racetrack as the leaders came to pit road for service. The move allowed Stewart and the No. 14 to jump from 20th to fifth.
Unfortunately, Stewart reported he cut a right-front tire just before the restart. He brought the car to pit road for service, which dropped him to 25th for the lap-303 restart.
Luckily, the opportunity to stay out under caution as the leaders pitted presented itself again on lap 315, and Stewart moved up from 21st to fifth. The three-time Sprint Cup champion gave everything he had as the race restarted on lap 326, but his worn tires were no match for those on fresh tires. Stewart dropped to 11th before the next caution on lap 332.
Stewart battled through two attempts at a green-white-checkered finish, bringing the No. 14 home in 11th place.
“(Our race) wasn’t anything spectacular,” Stewart said. “I kind of had high hopes at the beginning of it. It took off pretty decent there and just kind of started losing the handle of it midway through the race. The further back we got in traffic the worse that made it, obviously. But Chad kept making adjustments to it and finally got it calmed back down again, and got it to where we could start hustling.”
Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, led the four-car SHR contingent with a second-place finish in the AAA Texas 500. It was Harvick’s 12th top-five of 2014 and his fourth top-five in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
Harvick is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. He is among the eight drivers of the original field of 16 who advanced to the Eliminator Round. Harvick is vying for a spot in the final elimination round to be determined following the Nov. 9 race at Phoenix International Raceway. Only the top-four Chase drivers in points leaving Phoenix will be eligible for the Sprint Cup championship, setting up a four-driver, one-race showdown for the title in the season finale Nov. 16 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. Harvick leaves Texas eighth in the Chase standings, 18 points behind Chase leader Joey Logano.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished eighth after leading 15 laps, bringing his laps-led total at Texas to 415. It was his 10th top-10 of 2014 and his 13th top-10 in 24 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 36th after suffering two flat tires. It was Patrick’s 80th career Sprint Cup start and her fifth at Texas.
Jimmie Johnson won the AAA Texas 500 to score his 70th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth of the season and his fourth at Texas.
Harvick finished .513 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Brad Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Jamie McMurray rounded out the top-five. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Larson, Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were 13 caution periods for 61 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 341-lap race, which was extended seven laps by the green-white-checkered finish.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule – the ninth race of the 10-race Chase – is the Phoenix 500k on Nov. 9 at Phoenix International Raceway. The penultimate race of the season begins at 3 p.m. EST, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with a prerace show at 2 p.m.