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Sprint Cup - Stewart Race Report New Hampshire

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Loudon, Sep. 26, 2012: Tony Stewart proved to be rock-solid in the Granite State, as the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) finished seventh in the Sylvania 300 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway in Loudon.

Stewart drove from his third-place starting spot and into the lead just four laps into the 300-lap contest around the 1.058-mile oval and paced the field for the next 38 laps before a caution on lap 42 sent everyone to pit road. Stewart emerged in third place, but as the race wore on, his Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy lacked the perfect balance needed to negotiate the flat corners that are a signature of New Hampshire’s layout.

“Little tight in the center, little loose off” was a familiar refrain from Stewart on the radio as he described his car’s handling through the corners, banked at a scant 12 degrees.

No set of adjustments seemed to cure the car’s handling woes, but some of the troubleshooting by crew chief Steve Addington allowed Stewart to either start a run strong or finish a long, green-flag run with competitive lap times.

This was evident in the race’s final moments. With only 22 laps remaining following the race’s final caution period, Stewart rallied from 10th to seventh, passing SHR teammate Ryan Newman for ninth on lap 279, Brian Vickers for eighth on lap 285 and Joey Logano for seventh on lap 289.

The seventh-place run gave Stewart his 14th top-10 result of 2012 and his 17th top-10 in 28 career Sprint Cup starts at New Hampshire.

“It might’ve been a solid result, but we need to be better than that,” said Stewart, who has three Sprint Cup wins at New Hampshire (July 2000, July 2005 and September 2011).