Tony Stewart mounted a charge in the closing laps to beat Juan Pablo Montoya and end a 30 race winless streak, by conquering the Monster Mile at Dover. Stewart came out of nowhere after the final caution and ran down Montoya, passing him with three to go to win the FedEx 400. This win at the Monster Mile is Tony Stewart’s 48th career Sprint Cup victory and first of the 2013 campaign.
The race began with early domination by the Joe Gibbs drivers of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Even Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr appeared incredibly strong early on. Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch led majority of the first 250 laps. Kenseth’s day would be ruined by a blown engine, which has plagued Toyota Racing Development all season. Kenseth was chasing down leader Kyle Busch and came over the radio saying he had blown up. Another Toyota driver, Martin Truex Jr, suffered a similar fate to Kenseth as his day was cut short due to engine failure.
The final caution of the race came out when Denny Hamlin cut a tire and grazed the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya came out of the pits in front of Jimmie Johnson, who looked poised to run away from the field after leading 143 laps prior to the pit stop. Montoya starting first as opposed to second was crucial because coming to the green flag, Johnson jumped Montoya on the restart. Johnson was in front of Montoya in the restart box and was black flagged and called to pit road. Johnson’s had the responsibility of giving back the lead to Montoya and he failed to do so. Johnson would finish 17th a lap down.
Montoya would end up finishing second after valiantly fighting off Stewart up until the final three miles. Montoya was discouraged yet again, as he would lose his second race of the season in the closing laps (Richmond was the other). Stewart’s win marks his third career win at Dover. Today’s race could very well play into Tony Stewart making the chase as he currently sits 16th in the standings and is on the outside looking in for the chase.
Nascar heads to the Pocono Raceway where drivers prepare for long straights and only three turns as opposed to four. The race is 400 miles instead of 500 like it was for many years. Last year was the first year they tried a 400 miler and in my opinion the racing has been much better. The extra 100 miles is very hard on engines and sometimes drivers end up stretched out and the action is MIA. Last years race was rain shortened and awarded to Jeff Gordon. Pocono is rich in history as it has been known for many close quarter finishes. One that comes to mind was the 1998 Pocono 500 where Jeremy Mayfield bumped legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. out of the way in the final corner to win.
Mayfield quoted Earnhardt in that he was “just trying to rattle his cage a bit”, something that Earnhardt did to many drivers over his storied career. For next weekends race, I am going to go with Denny Hamlin to win. He looks as if he is fully healed from his crash earlier this year and is a four time winner at Pocono. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the Gibbs drivers (barring engine failure) end up competing for the trophy next week.