Smoke Smokes the Field in the Kobalt Tools 400
During several late cautions due to debris and the No. 51 of Kurt Bush into the wall on lap 254, Stewart was virtually untouchable in restarts which was a key in leading him to victory lane.
“Every time the caution came out, you knew that was another heat cycle on the tires. Our car was so,so strong today on restarts. We could get to the start/finish line and get to turn one so good today, that was a big key in holding these guys off,” said Stewart in the post-race media conference.
This is Stewart’s 45th victory in 467 NASCAR Sprint Cup series races and his first win and top-10 finish in 2012. This puts Stewart 7th in the points standings, 25 behind points leader Greg Biffle.
Starting in the back of the field with his back-up car after a wreck in practice, Jimmie Johnson in the No. 48 Lowes Chevrolet drove to the front of the field and led 35 laps. On the final restart on lap 261, Johnson’s car was strong, but not strong enough to catch Stewart giving Johnson a second place finish.
“My only chance was to be at his outside through one and two. Didn’t have that opportunity. Drove my guts out but just didn’t get it done,” said Johnson in a post-race media conference. This is Johnson’s second top-ten finish in 2012, and his sixth top-ten finish in 14 races at Las Vegas Motorspeedway.
Greg Biffle in the No. 16 3M/Meguiars Ford placed third. During a restart with 30 to go, Stewart went three wide with Biffle right behind him. When asked what was his thoughts were when Stewart went wide he answered ”I’m going with him. Thank you for making the hole for me.” This is Biffle’s third top-five finish in 2012 and his sixth top-ten finish in nine races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Biffle leads the points in the Sprint Cup series.
Ryan Newman took fourth, and last year’s winner, Carl Edwards placed fifth. Dale Earnhardt Jr. led 70 laps, more laps that he led in the 2011 season and posted a tenth place finish.
For the second day in a row, Lady Luck was not kind to Brad Keselowski. Starting 20th, Keselowski ran in the top-15 most of the day and by lap 240 moved his way up to second postion. On a restart on lap 250, the fuel pump on the No 2 Miller Lite Dodge broke giving him a 32nd place finish.
“We had a pretty decent Dodge Charger all day, probably not as good as Tony’s (Stewart) but really strong. We were going to give him a run for his money and I was going to drive my butt off. It just wasn’t meant to be. I didn’t run out of gas. The fuel pump broke,” said Keselowski.
Teammate AJ Allmendinger in the No 22 Pennzoil Dodge also had fuel delivery issues with erratic fuel pressure giving him a 37th place finish. Kurt Busch cut a left rear tire late in the race sending the No 51 Tag Heuer Eyewear Chevrolet back to the garage.