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Stewart wins in Kansas

He's back.

After failing to finish better than ninth in his previous six races, Tony Stewart re-emerged as a factor in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup with a victory in Sunday's Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway.

Stewart, who led the series through the first 26 races leading up to the Chase, beat Jeff Gordon to the finish line by .894 seconds to trim 39 points from his deficit to Chase leader Mark Martin, who ran seventh. With four victories this season, Stewart is fourth in the standings, 67 points behind Martin.

Crew chief Darian Grubb's two-tyre call on the final pit stop of the afternoon, under caution on lap 238 of 267, put Stewart's #14 Chevrolet out front for a restart on lap 242. In the closing laps, Stewart held off Gordon, who took four tyres on the stop and charged from sixth to second in the final 26 laps.

“Darian — you don't question him when he makes a call,” Stewart said. “You know it's the right thing to do, and then you go from there. The big thing was just not driving the tyres off the thing, in case we got a (late) caution and a green-white-chequer. We had a little bit left, but we didn't leave too much out there.

“We got two tyres earlier and were able to go really quick on 'em, so it was pretty much, I think in our opinion, a no-brainer what to do there. The guys who took four never could gain the track position back. We had a really good car on two tyres, and Darian and the guys on the pit crew are the ones that got us the win. They got us track position, and I was able to pick which line I wanted on the restart, and that won us the race.”

Three-time defending Cup champion Jimmie Johnson restarted third on two tires on lap 242 but faded to ninth at the finish. Johnson is second in the Chase standings, trailing Martin by 18 points.

Greg Biffle opened a lead of as many as nine seconds before NASCAR called the sixth and final caution on Lap 236 because of fluid on the track, but Biffle overruled crew chief Greg Erwin and opted for four tyres — instead of the two Erwin preferred — before the final restart.

Biffle restarted fourth and finished third. Juan Pablo Montoya came home fourth, his third straight top-four finish in three Chase races, and trails Martin by 51 points. Denny Hamlin ran fifth and Kasey Kahne sixth, as Chase drivers grabbed the top seven positions and ten of the top eleven.

Despite fighting an ill-handling car to start the race, Gordon also gained ground on Martin, moving up one position to seventh in the standings.

“I started really running out of steam towards the end, with the tyres,” said Gordon, who trails Martin by 103 points. “I had just used them up so much trying to catch him. … We were really far off when this race started. I thought there's no way we'll ever finish second. … We just kept tuning on it.”


Tagged as: Sprint Cup , chase , Tony Stewart , Kansas

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Tony Stewart, driver of the No.14 Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet, celebrates with his crew in victory lane after winning Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Price Chopper 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City, Kan. (John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet, lead a pack of cars during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, practices for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 14, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, passes Denny Hamlin, driver of the #11 FedEx Express Toyota, to take the lead and win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 Shell-Pennzoil Ford, pits during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, and team owner Tony Stewart celebrate winning in Victory Lane after the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with his wife DeLana and son Keelan in victory lane after winning during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates with the trophy in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Marcos Ambrose, driver of the #9 Stanley Ford, poses with his team before his last race, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Christa L Thomas/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet SS, celebrates his victory and the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship Sunday, November 16, 2014 winning the final NASCAR Sprint Cup race of the season at Homestead-Miami Speedway in Homestead, Florida. Ryan Newman, driver of the #31 Caterpillar Chevrolet SS finishes 2nd. (Photo by Garry Eller/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, leads Jeff Gordon, driver of the #24 Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet, during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in Victory Lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida. (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Kevin Harvick, driver of the #4 Budweiser Chevrolet, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Ford EcoBoost 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, 2014 in Homestead, Florida.  (Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

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