'Idiots' spoil Stewart's day

Tony Stewart celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at...

Tony Stewart celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway on Monday. (AFP)

DEAN McNULTY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:12 AM ET

JOLIET, ILL. - Tony Stewart did not sound like someone who had just won his first race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, a race that catapulted him into the mix of a favourite now to win the Chase for the Championship.

No, Tony Stewart was perturbed.

He was perturbed that on his way to victory in the No 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet he had to deal with what he described as “idiots” along the way.

Idiots, he said, who had no respect for other drivers.

While not naming names, Stewart complained loud and long about being held up in traffic by drivers who were in some cases multiple laps down to the leaders.

“Everybody was putting each other in bad spots,” he said. “And you just had some guys in particular you just had to get through and get away from them.”

Stewart said that those drivers need to take lessons from the guys who are running up front on a regular basis.

“There are drivers (in Sprint Cup) like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick and Jeff Gordon who you can race with all day and know they will race you clean and fair,” he said. “But there are too many other who just don’t show any respect at all.”

For the record Stewart’s win Monday in the GEICO 400 at Chicagoland Speedway — the first of the 10-race Chase — moved him from 10th in points to second behind new leader Kevin Harvick who finished second Monday in the No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet.

Stewart won the race on an amazing fuel run over the final 50 green flag laps of the race, while other contenders like five-time champion Johnson and pre-race points leader Kyle Busch ran out of gas.

Busch dropped from first to ninth in the championship as a result and Johnson fell to eighth.

And Gordon who went into the race in third sport fell to 11th after finishing 24th in an ill-handling No. 24 Chevrolet.

The funny part of Stewart’s win at Chicagoland was that he had told media members earlier in the weekend that he didn’t consider himself among the 12 Chase drivers who could win the big prize.

“Counting Tony Stewart out — that’s pretty funny that he counts himself out,” Harvick said. “There’s no way they’re going to be totally out to lunch. So I think that’s yet to be seen. So he ran strong all day and drove from the back to the front and led the race and won the race.”

The biggest surprise of the race had to be the performance of Earnhardt and the No. 88 Chevrolet team who bounced around the back of the lead pack for most of the afternoon before catching the leaders and hanging on with just fumes as his car sputtered as it approached the finish line on the final lap.

He had enough gas in the tank to take third spot.

“I just knew we were going to get a good finish if we didn’t run out of fuel,” Earnhardt said. “I was happy where we were. I thought we had really improved throughout the day.

“And, yeah, it felt a lot similar to how we ran earlier in the year where we would ... use strategy to improve our finishing position.”

Carl Edwards was fourth in the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford with Penske Racing teammates Brad Keselowski in the No. 2 Dodge and Kurt Busch in the No. 22 Dodge finishing fifth and sixth.

Johnson finished 10th after NASCAR demoted pole sitter Matt Kenseth — also out of gas — to 21st for getting a push from J.J. Yeley through Turns 3 and 4 on the final lap.

“You hate to have to play the fuel-mileage game,” Stewart said. “I felt like we had saved enough to get us to the end, but we came off Turn 2 after we got the checkered, and the fuel pressure was down to two pounds, and it stayed there until just shortly after we picked up the checkered flag at the flagstand. So we were closer than I wanted to be.”

The Chase is back on track Sunday at the one-mile oval at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.

The 12 NASCAR Chase drivers and where they finished at Chicagoland:

POS. DRIVER FINISH

1. Kevin Harvick 2nd

2. Tony Stewart 1st

3. Carl Edwards 4th

4. Kurt Busch 6th

5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 3rd

6. Brad Keselowski 5th

7. Ryan Newman 8th

8. Jimmie Johnson 10th

9. Kyle Busch 22nd

10. Matt Kenseth 21st

11. Jeff Gordon 24th

12. Denny Hamlin 31st


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