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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)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AutoTrader.com Ford, and Morgan Shepherd, driver of the #33 Little Joe`s Autos Chevrolet, crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates in victory lane after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Matt Sullivan/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, takes the chequered flag to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Brad Keselowski, driver of the #2 Redds Ford, celebrates with a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
A view of the track during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images)
Crew chief Chad Knaus inspects the car of Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, after a crash during the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, and Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, lead the field at the start of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet, crashes in the early part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 13, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Aric Almirola (R), driver of the #43 Charter Ford, inspects his car after crashing during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 12, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Brian Lawdermilk/NASCAR via Getty Images)
Team Penske driver Brad Keselowski in the garage at Martinsville Speedway (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Alan Marler/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies second Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Tony Stewart, driver of the #14 Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS, qualifies fourth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
 
Jamie McMurray, driver of the #1 McDonald`s Chevrolet SS, qualifies fifth Friday, July 11, 2014 for NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon, New Hampshire. (Photo by Harold Hinson/HHP for Chevy Racing)
Kyle Busch, driver of the #18 Interstate Batteries Toyota, right, poses with Miss Coors Light Rachel Rupert and the Coors Light Pole Award after qualifying for the pole for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Joey Logano, driver of the #22 AutoTrader.com Ford, looks on in the garage area during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on July 11, 2014 in Loudon, New Hampshire.  (Photo Credit: Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)

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