It doesn’t happen often, but it happened Sunday in the Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International.
Tony Stewart was running second on lap 71 when he spun off the final corner of the 2.45-mile, 11-turn road course. His No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet backed into the Armco barrier that lined the inside of pit road, sustaining heavy damage.
Several trips to the pits allowed his Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) crew the opportunity to repair the car enough to finish the race, and that’s just what Stewart did, rallying from 29th on lap 74 to finish 19th when the checkered flag dropped after lap 90.
“Sorry, guys,” said Stewart over the radio on the cool-down lap. “I gave it away there.”
Crew chief Steve Addington was quick to correct his driver: “You give it 110 percent every lap, every race. That’s what we live for. Don’t be sorry for anything.”
Before the spin, the Finger Lakes 355k at The Glen was looking familiar for Stewart. A five-time Sprint Cup winner at Watkins Glen, Stewart started seventh and rose to second. He certainly would’ve been a factor in the late-race shootout between Marcos Ambrose, Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch, where all the drivers were on worn tires and sliding around as they rooted and gouged for the top spot.
Ambrose wound up the victor after a spirited battle with Keselowski, who knocked Busch out of the way in the esses on the final lap. The victory was the second of his Sprint Cup career and his second straight at Watkins Glen.
Keselowski finished .571 of a second behind Ambrose in the runner-up spot while Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer and Sam Hornish Jr. rounded out the top-five. Greg Biffle, Busch, Matt Kenseth, Regan Smith and Martin Truex Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.
Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 U.S. Army Chevrolet for SHR, finished 11th to earn his fifth top-12 result in 11 career Sprint Cup starts at Watkins Glen, his 10th of the season and his fifth in a row. It also vaulted Newman into the second wild-card spot with four races to go before the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup begins Sept. 16 at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet, Ill.
There were four caution periods for 13 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish.
With round 22 of 36 complete, Stewart continues to lead the SHR duo in the championship point standings. He fell two spots to eighth and has 716 points, 61 back of new series leader Johnson and six points ahead of ninth-place Kevin Harvick with a 63-point cushion over 11th-place Kasey Kahne. Newman improved one position to 13th and has 644 points, 133 behind Johnson and 49 behind 10th-place Denny Hamlin.
The next event on the Sprint Cup schedule is the Pure Michigan 400 on Sunday, Aug. 19 at Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn. The race starts at 1 p.m. EDT, with live coverage provided by ESPN beginning with its pre-race show at noon.