Having endured eleven disappointments at Indy - six in NASCAR's Cup Series and five in the IRL IndyCar Series - before finally winning in a stock car at the famed Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2005, Tony Stewart only had to wait a year and 209 days to score his second victory in the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard.

The Columbus native led seven times for a race-high 65 laps en route to a dominating win, Stewart taking the #20 Home Depot Chevrolet across the line 2.982secs ahead of 2000 Indianapolis 500 winner - and Nextel Cup rookie - Juan Pablo Montoya.

"This one I'm going to remember, it's like a dream," Stewart said, "The first one was great, but there was so much going around it, being the first one. Both races were special. Neither of the wins outweighs the other. To race one of my good friends, Kasey Kahne, for the first one and a very close friend, Kevin Harvick, for this one, I couldn't think of two other guys I'd rather race for the win here than that."

Stewart had the fastest car on the 2.5-mile oval, but Harvick was fast too, the two drivers engaging in a spirited battle following a restart on lap 140. That didn't end until Stewart was able to seize the lead for good on lap 151 of 160.

"It was just like Chicago, except we were real vulnerable on the restarts," he said, alluding to his win at the previous Nextel Cup race, "Three times I went down into [turn] one and got really tight on a restart for some unknown reason. I kept trying to scrub the tyres, making sure they were cleaned off, but, for some reason, we'd go down in there and get tight. We were fine after that, but it let Kevin get by us.

"I was confident that we could get back to him. I really believed we could get by him again because we'd done it the run before. But we got up to him and actually dropped back a little bit. I thought 'man, this may or may not happen'. It was just a matter of trying to get the timing right, and get a good run on him to where we could get a run down the straightaway.

"The motor was awesome. We could draft up to him and get underneath him going into three. That was my strong point. Kevin got really smart and changed how he was driving turn two and got to where I wasn't getting as big a run as I was before, so I had to do something different. I'd been lifting earlier, he'd been driving in deeper than I had. Just the differences in set-ups let us drive our cars different from each other.

"I tried to go in hard with him once and see what happened, and I got up to him and he got tight, I guess, in one. We got underneath him, I just squeezed him a little bit - not on purpose, but I got too close to him and ran into him in the short chute. It was really cool, almost like a slide job, a countermove, him getting back underneath me. It was a drag race down the backstretch. Whoever got through turn three was probably going to win the race at that point."

It was Stewart who emerged out front off turn three, allowing him to take his second consecutive Cup victory, a feat the nine-year Nextel Cup driver has performed seven times since entering the series as a rookie in 1999.

"For us to be able to win at Indy a second time is just the real deal," said crew chief Greg Zipadelli, "He has matured so much. He drove like I can't even tell you - it was a phenomenal race today. I'm proud of him, proud of this whole team. These guys back home work hard and this is the second time out with this car and we've won with it."

The new car debuted on 15 July at Chicagoland Speedway and is now two-for-two, as The Home Depot-sponsored Joe Gibbs Racing team took the off-weekend and turned the car around to compete at Indianapolis.

"We debated about which two cars we should bring back," revealed Stewart, recounting a pre-Indy conversation he had with Zipadelli regarding whether to take chassis 143 or another proven chassis that won three races last year and led over 630 laps, "I wanted the car that we didn't run, but that's why he's the crew chief and I'm the driver. I get in the one that has my name on it and that's the one I drive that weekend."

Stewart's Indy drive bumped him up one spot to fifth in the championship point standings, where he is 452 points behind series leader Jeff Gordon. But Gordon should beware. Six times during the previous 13 times NASCAR has visited Indy, the winner has gone onto to win the championship, a feat that Stewart pulled in 2005 when he recorded his second series title.