Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Driver Finishes 41st After Accident


Date:  Aug. 31, 2014

Event:  Oral-B USA 500 (Round 25 of 36)

Series:  NASCAR Sprint Cup Series

Location:  Atlanta Motor Speedway (1.54-mile oval)

Start/Finish:  12th/41st (Accident, completed 170 of 335 laps)

Point Standing:  26th (540 points, 332 out of first)

Winner:  Kasey Kahne of Hendrick Motorsports in a green-white-checkered finish (Chevrolet)

Tony Stewart had a strong start Sunday night at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Oral-B USA 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, but it was an early, 41st-place finish for the driver of the No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS of Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR).

A flat right-front tire on lap 171 around the 1.54-mile oval sent Stewart into the turn-two wall. The right side of the No. 14 machine scraped along the SAFER Barrier and then moments later, the tire shredded, ripping apart sheetmetal and suspension components.

After starting 12th in the 43-car field and passing five cars on the first lap, Stewart continued to show strength, climbing all the way to fourth place by lap 15. Changing track conditions saw Stewart drop to 12thby lap 100, but in working the low line around the track’s corners, Stewart made his racecar work for him.

Unfortunately, Stewart was pinched into the wall on lap 124 by Kyle Busch, and it ultimately became the No. 14 team’s undoing. Stewart had to make several trips to pit road to repair the damage to his car and realign the front end. He went a lap down in the process, falling to 21st.

Stewart was able to return to the racetrack, but his car’s handling was adversely affected by the incident with Busch. Stewart said that he couldn’t get the front end of his racecar to cut thought the corners the way he needed. After 37 laps of green-flag racing, Stewart’s right-front tire was flat and he was in the wall. Forced to the garage area to inspect the damage, crew chief Chad Johnston determined the car was too damaged to repair.

“The Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet was pretty fast today,” Johnston said. “We made some pretty good progress there at the start. Drove up into the top-five and thought we had a pretty good chance. We were just kind of biding our time and taking care of our stuff and got into an incident there off of (turn) two and knocked the toe out of it and had some pretty heavy right-side damage. We ended up blowing a right-front (tire) because of it. Not the end of the day that we wanted. We thought we had a shot at winning.”

Danica Patrick, driver of the No. 10 GoDaddy Chevrolet SS, led the way for SHR at Atlanta by finishing a career-best sixth. Patrick rallied from her 27th-place starting spot to earn her third top-10 this season and her fourth top-10 in 71 career Sprint Cup starts.

Patrick’s sixth-place finish is the highest finish by a female at Atlanta. The previous record was held by Janet Guthrie (10th on March 19, 1978). Only a fifth-place result by Sara Christian in a Sprint Cup race on Oct. 2, 1949 at Heidelberg (Pa.) Raceway tops Patrick’s finish. Christian also finished sixth at Langhorn (Pa.) Speedway on Sept. 11, 1949 and Guthrie finished sixth at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway on Aug. 28, 1977.

Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet SS for SHR, started 22nd and finished 13thafter leading 22 laps.

Kevin Harvick, driver of the No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet SS for SHR, started on the pole for the sixth time this season and led seven times for a race-high 195 laps. However, Harvick was relegated to a 19th-place finish after getting sent into the turn-one wall on the penultimate restart of the race on lap 329.

Kasey Kahne won the Oral-B USA 500 to score his 17th career Sprint Cup victory, his first of the season and his third at Atlanta. 

Matt Kenseth finished .574 of a second behind Kahne in the runner-up spot, while Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards rounded out the top-five. Patrick, Ryan Newman, rookie Kyle Larson, Aric Almirola and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 10 caution periods for 56 laps, with five drivers failing to finish the 335-lap race, which was extended 10 laps by a green-white-checkered finish.

With round 25 of 36 complete, Harvick leads the SHR contingent in the championship point standings. He is eighth with 748 points, 124 behind first-place Jeff Gordon. Busch is 21st with 614 points, 258 out of first. Stewart is 26th with 540 points, 332 out of first. Patrick is 28th with 500 points, 372 out of first. 

The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Federated Auto Parts 400 on Saturday, Sept. 6 at Richmond (Va.) International Raceway. The race starts at 7:30 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ABC beginning with its prerace show at 7 p.m.