Less than half way into Sunday's 90-lap Sirius at the Glen, Tony Stewart's #20 Joe Gibbs Racing crew had Boris Said sitting in Stewart's back-up Home Depot Chevrolet to see if the versatile road course ace could squeeze his lanky frame into the cockpit of the #20 machine should an increasingly ill Stewart need to withdraw. He didn't.

Fighting off the unpleasant consequences of a stomach bug and leg cramps inside a cramped and extremely hot stock car cockpit, Stewart led a total of 46 laps, including the final 25 to take his second career victory at the 2.45-mile Watkins Glen International road course.

After a number of different pit strategies shuffled the running order greatly during the mid-portion of the race, Stewart took the lead for a fourth and final time on lap 76, neatly outbraking a fuel miserly Casey Mears into the back straight esses and then keeping a steady gap back to road course ace Ron Fellows as the race wound down.

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After the race, a rather wan looking Stewart climbed straight out of his car, which he did manage to guide successfully to Victory Lane as per NASCAR protocol, before departing directly to his motor home before he could be interviewed.

While some cynically suggested that this was a big ruse from Stewart, aimed at ridiculing the recent Gatorade/PowerAde/Victory Lane 'Bottlegate' saga, there was no denying the fact that Stewart didn't look his usual self at the end of the race.

There was also no denying the fact that Stewart had the strongest car in the field, save for a couple of laps in the early going when he and fellow road course ace Jeff Gordon battled for the lead.

But Gordon, and a number of other major players in the title chase, eventually fell foul of the sweeping, mechanically demanding eleven turn course, the #24 DuPont Chevrolet losing all but fourth gear in the closing laps and dropping the Hendrick Motorsports driver to 21st at the finish.

After dealing with Gordon's best challenge, Stewart fell out of the lead picture as pit strategy came into play, with defending Watkins Glen Champion Robby Gordon leading a dozen laps through the middle of the race. Gordon's #31 Cingular Wireless Chevrolet looked comfortable at the head of the field, but Robby had no answer for Stewart as the 2002 NASCAR Champ charged back up the leaderboard to take the lead at half distance.

A green flag pit stop for fuel and tyres on lap 56 pushed Stewart back into the lower reaches of the top 20 and allowed several unfamiliar faces to take the spotlight at the head of the field. These faces included Mears and Brendan Gaughan, who were both doubtful to go the full distance on fuel but who, between them, led 15 laps.

On lap 68, with Stewart still nearly half a minute behind them, Mears passed Gaughan who then promptly spun off after becoming the latest in a long line of drivers to completely cook their brakes. The resulting caution flag not only pulled Stewart right back onto the rear bumper of the top five but also allowed Mears to save some fuel in his bid to run 40 laps on his final tank.

When the final green flag of the day flew on lap 75, Stewart took less than a lap to pass the four cars between him and Mears and set sail into the middle distance.

As Mears drove as conservatively as possible, Ron Fellows moved into second spot in the #1 DEI Chevrolet, a remarkable achievement after starting 43rd and last. Despite Fellows' best effort, he could only half Stewart's lead in the final ten laps, the 2002 Watkins Glen winner crossing the line with 1.5-seconds to spare.

Mears' fuel lasted until the final corner, which allowed Mark Martin to grab third on the line with Dale Earnhardt Jr, now seemingly fully fit again, completing the top five.

Kevin Harvick claimed a welcome sixth place finish as several others in the lower reaches of the top ten in points struggled while Jeremy Mayfield bypassed Ryan Newman to take the final berth in the current 'Chase for the Championship' with a solid seventh place effort.

Ricky Rudd scored his best result of the year with eighth place while Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.

From pole position, points leader Jimmie Johnson gradually fell back in the early laps before his engine gave up the ghost for the second straight week and relegated him to the ranks of the non-finishers. Johnson's 40th place finish not only allowed his Hendrick teammate Gordon to close to within 40 points of him at the head of the standings but it also allowed those drivers sitting in positions 11-15 to reduce their overall deficit to him as they attempt to get to within 400 points of the series lead after race 26.

With Kasey Kahne finishing 14th, Newman a disgruntled a body-damaged 26th, Martin 3rd, Dale Jarrett a body-damaged 27th and Jamie McMurray 13th, the drivers in positions 11-15 in the points table are all less than 190 points adrift of a place in the final ten race 'Chase for the Championship' regardless of their overall position after 26 races.

Both Jarrett and Newman might have gained even further ground on Johnson had it not been for separate incidents where they found themselves torpedoed at the end of the back straight. Brian Vickers fired Jarrett into the gravel on lap seven, costing both drivers a lap, while Newman was the victim of both brake problems and an over ambitious move by veteran Morgan Shepherd.