Tony Stewart drove to a quiet 17th-place finish in the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway, ending a five-race streak of top-five finishes in the non-points event.
“We just weren’t very good. We struggled all night,” said Stewart, who has participated in each All-Star Race since joining the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series as a rookie in 1999 and won the 2009 All-Star Race. “We just missed it tonight. I mean, we’re not going to hit it every week, and if you’re going to miss it, you’d rather miss it on a night like tonight.”
Stewart’s run in the All-Star Race served as test session for the Coca-Cola 600 next Sunday at Charlotte – a point-paying race that also happens to be the longest event on the Sprint Cup schedule. When asked what he learned from the All-Star Race that could be applied to the Coca-Cola 600, Stewart was succinct, “Yeah, don’t bring back what we just ran tonight.”
The run was disappointment for Stewart, who carried the colors of Bass Pro Shops and the National Wild Turkey Federation on his No. 14 Chevrolet.
“I wanted to run really well for Johnny Morris (founder, Bass Pro Shops) and the guys at Bass Pro Shops and the National Wild Turkey Federation,” said Stewart after the race that was made up of four 20-lap segments followed by a 10-lap shootout. “It was an important night for me to run well for those guys, and I just let ‘em down.”
Teammate Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Tornados Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, finished 10th to score his seventh top-10 finish in 11 career All-Star Races.
Jimmie Johnson won the All-Star Race. It was his third All-Star Race win and his ninth Sprint Cup victory at Charlotte.
Brad Keselowski finished .841 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr., rounded out the top-five. Kevin Harvick, Marcos Ambrose, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne and Newman comprised the remainder of the top-10.
The Sprint Cup Series returns to point-paying racing Sunday, May 27 with the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte. The longest race on the Sprint Cup schedule gets underway at 6 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by FOX beginning at 5:30 p.m.