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Sprint Cup - Stewart Race Report Charlotte

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Concord, Oct. 14, 2012: Tony Stewart rallied from as far back as 36th to finish 13th in the 500-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Saturday night at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway.

The box score shows Stewart gained 19 positions, as he started 32nd. But a chain-reaction accident following a restart on lap 16 damaged the nose of Stewart’s No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet. Three subsequent pit stops were needed to repair the damage and stay on the lead lap, which dropped Stewart all the way to 36th in the 43-car field.

“I was following the 2 car (Brad Keselowski) there, and he had to check up, big time, for whatever was going on in front of him,” said Stewart, who won the October race in 2003 at Charlotte. “Man, I drilled him. And the further back you were, the worse it made it. It really screwed up the nose of our racecar.”

Through perseverance and tenacity, Stewart began to claw his way back toward the front in the 334-lap race on the 1.5-mile oval, rising to as high as eighth before a caution period on lap 223. Stewart fell to 13th as the event became a fuel-mileage race, as the three-time and reigning Sprint Cup champion had to back off his pace to conserve enough gas to make it to the finish.

“I’m really proud of our guys here at Stewart-Haas Racing,” Stewart said. “This Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy was pretty good. That’s the best we’ve been here for a while. I’m proud of the effort of these guys. I thought we might get a top-10 out of it tonight, but I’ll take this.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), finished 20th. Newman’s night was arduous because he had to forfeit the third-place starting spot earned in qualifying when his team was forced to change engines after discovering a problem during the final practice session Friday. Per the NASCAR rulebook, Newman was sent to the rear of the field, where he started in 38th, as there were other drivers whose teams also changed engines and had to start in the back.

Clint Bowyer won the Charlotte 500 to score his eighth career Sprint Cup victory, his third of the season and his first at Charlotte.

Denny Hamlin finished .417 of a second behind Bowyer in the runner-up spot, while Jimmie Johnson, Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch rounded out the top-five. Mark Martin, Carl Edwards, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Martin Truex Jr. comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were five caution periods for 23 laps, with nine drivers failing to finish.

Stewart is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the fifth race of the 10-race Chase in seventh place among the 12 Chase drivers, 46 points behind Chase leader Brad Keselowski. Stewart leaves Charlotte eighth in the standings, 50 points behind Keselowski.