Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Driver Delivers Gritty Performance at Monster Mile
Date: May 31, 2015
Event: FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks (Round 13 of 36)
Series: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series
Location: Dover (Del.) International Speedway (1-mile, concrete oval)
Start/Finish: 26th/16th (Running, completed 403 of 405 laps in a green-white-checkered finish)
Point Standing: 28th (230 points, 286 out of first)
Winner: Jimmie Johnson of Hendrick Motorsports (Chevrolet)
While it wasn’t the result Tony Stewart was looking for, his 16th-place finish in the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway was hard-earned.
Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started 26th in the 43-car field and dealt with a tight-handling racecar throughout the 405-lap race around the 1-mile, concrete oval. At one point, Stewart was three laps down, but he rallied and earned one of his laps back before finishing 16th.
“That’s the hardest I’ve had to work for a 16th-place finish,” said Stewart upon climbing from his car on pit road.
Stewart even had to overcome a pit stall with crumbling concrete. With approximately 150 laps still remaining in the race, an expansion joint at the front of Stewart’s pit area buckled. Shards of concrete running the width of his pit stall came apart, leaving a deep rut with sharp edges that Stewart had to gently navigate each time he pitted.
With all the Monster Mile threw at Stewart, he never blinked. Stewart simply dug deeper and earned the best finish possible. In a fast-paced race that saw just four cautions for 25 laps in the first 376 laps, all of which were separated by long, green flag runs, Stewart was one of only four drivers finishing two laps down. Twenty-seven other drivers finished three or more laps down when the checkered flag dropped.
Stewart’s SHR teammate, Kevin Harvick, nearly tamed the Monster Mile. The driver of the No. 4 ditech Chevrolet SS led twice for 91 laps only to finish second. It was Harvick’s ninth top-two result this season and his fourth top-five in 29 career Sprint Cup starts at Dover.
Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 15th. It was Patrick’s first top-15 result in six Sprint Cup starts at Dover and her third top-15 this season.
Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, finished 31st after being collected in an accident on lap 386 when he was running among the top-10.
Jimmie Johnson won the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks to score his 74th career Sprint Cup victory, his fourth this season and his 10th at Dover. Johnson became just the fifth driver in Sprint Cup history to have 10 or more wins at a single track, joining NASCAR Hall of Famers Richard Petty, David Pearson, Darrell Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt.
Harvick finished .435 of a second behind Johnson, while Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola rounded out the top-five. Martin Truex Jr., Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon comprised the remainder of the top-10.
There were seven caution periods for 40 laps, with four drivers failing to finish the 405-lap race, which was extended from its scheduled 400-lap distance by a green-white-checkered finish.
With round 13 of 36 complete, Harvick leads SHR in the championship point standings. He is first with 516 points, 44 ahead of second-place Truex. Busch is 15th with 340 points, 176 out of first. Patrick is 18th with 321 points, 195 out of first. Stewart is 28th with 230 points, 286 out of first.