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Cut Tire Cuts Stewart from Race Lead at Texas

Old Spice Driver Rallies to Finish 10th in O’Reilly 300

Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart
Tony Stewart appeared to be the only driver capable of challenging his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch for the win in Saturday’s O’Reilly 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth. But at the end of the 200-lap race, it was Busch in victory lane and Stewart finishing 10th after he rallied from being a lap down.

Stewart drove his No. 20 Old Spice Toyota quickly from his sixth-place starting spot in the 43-car field to second by lap 33 of the 200-lap race.

He raced for the lead with Kevin Harvick during a spirited duel that lasted from lap 52 to lap 56, with Stewart briefly holding the point on lap 54.

A round of green flag pit stops that began on lap 57 jumbled the running order for a brief time, but once all the stops cycled through, Harvick was back in the lead with Stewart doggedly pursuing him in second. But the pursuit was short-lived when Harvick had to take his Chevrolet into the garage area to repair a broken gear that happened during his scheduled pit stop.

Stewart inherited the lead and paced the field for 11 circuits around the 1.5-mile oval before trouble befell his Old Spice Toyota on lap 71. A cut right rear tire was the culprit, and under green flag conditions, Stewart had to come to pit road for new right side tires.

The unscheduled pit stop dropped Stewart off the lead lap and gave the lead to Busch, who would further showcase the dominant power of his No. 18 Toyota that propelled him from 31st to first. While Busch led laps 71-92, 94-153 and finally laps 158-200, Stewart used all the power beneath his right foot to earn his lap back from Busch during a restart on lap 160. And in the race’s last 30 laps, Stewart rallied from 15th to 10th.

“It was a pretty good end to what was looking like a bad day,” said crew chief Dave Rogers. “Tony kept his head in the game and drove a really good race, and the end result was a top-10 finish.”

Stewart’s third top-10 finish in four Nationwide Series races this year gained the No. 20 car one position in owner points. JGR’s No. 20 team is now fifth in points, 120 markers behind the leading No. 2 car of Richard Childress Racing.

Busch’s win was his first this season and his 12th victory in 115 Nationwide Series races. Finishing 1.041 seconds behind Busch was Jeff Burton, while Burton’s Richard Childress Racing teammates Clint Bowyer and Bobby Labonte were third and fourth, respectively. Jamie McMurray came home fifth, while Brian Vickers, Dale Earnhardt Jr., David Ragan, Jason Leffler and Stewart rounded-out the top-10.

The next event on the Nationwide Series schedule is the April 11 Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 at Phoenix International Raceway. The race starts at 9:45 p.m. EDT with live coverage provided by ESPN2 beginning with its pre-race show at 9:30 p.m. The race will also be broadcast live on SIRIUS Satellite Radio Channel 128.

Stewart returns to the No. 20 Old Spice Toyota April 26 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway for the Aaron’s 312.

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