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Sprint Cup - Stewart Race Report Martinsville

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Martinsville, Oct. 29, 2012: Relief couldn’t come soon enough for Tony Stewart in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway.

Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), started seventh but struggled with a tight-handling racecar throughout the entire 500-lap race around the .526-mile oval. He ended the day 27th, two laps down to race winner Jimmie Johnson.

“No matter what we did to the car – and we made a lot of adjustments – it didn’t do anything to make it better,” said Stewart, who enjoyed much better Martinsville outings before Sunday, as his three wins at the paperclip-shaped track attest (October 2000, April 2006 and October 2011).

Stewart’s SHR teammate, Ryan Newman, rallied his No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevrolet from two laps down at one point to finish 11th. It was Newman’s 20th top-15 finish this season.

Johnson’s win in the TUMS Fast Relief 500 was the 59th of his Sprint Cup career, his fourth of the season and his seventh at Martinsville. It also allowed the five-time Sprint Cup champion to take the point lead with only three races remaining. Johnson leads second-place Brad Keselowski by two points heading into next Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.

With Johnson’s victory, Chevrolet clinched the manufacturer’s championship for the 10th consecutive season and 36th overall.

Kyle Busch finished .479 of a second behind Johnson in the runner-up spot, while Kasey Kahne, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-five. Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Brian Vickers, Bobby Labonte and Greg Biffle comprised the remainder of the top-10.

There were 11 caution periods for 64 laps, with 11 drivers failing to finish.

Stewart is representing SHR in this year’s Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup and came into the seventh race of the 10-race Chase in seventh place among the 12 Chase drivers, 47 points behind former Chase leader Keselowski. Stewart leaves Martinsville 10th in the standings, 71 points behind new Chase leader Johnson.