It’s the pits as Stewart finishes second, Montoya third

Driving the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing, Tony Stewart dominated much of the March 6th Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS), leading a race high 163 laps. However, a pit road mishap at lap 155 of 267 cost him the lead and eventually the race. Stewart restarted at the tail end of the lead lap as the result of a penalty for the incident during his pit stop, but rallied to take the lead once again late in the race after pitting for two tires to earn valuable track position.

As the laps wound down under a long green flag run, Stewart would have to pit for four tires and fuel and ultimately gave back the key track position he earned under the earlier stop and would fall just short of running down the eventual winner – Carl Edwards (Ford). The finish was Stewart’s eighth top-10 finish in 13 races at LVMS and puts him in a two-way tie for the overall point lead in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

(Ron Lewis photo)

“I honestly think we had the car to beat today, we just gave it away,” Stewart said after the race. “I don't know what happened on the pit stop there, but we had a miscue and had a penalty and had to go to the back, and unfortunately it kind of dealt our cards for us. Darian made a good call getting us the track position back, but it also showed everybody else that they could do it, too, and we couldn't run two and a half runs on a set of left side tires.

“Just shot ourselves in the foot two weeks in a row now.”

Juan Pablo Montoya ran strong and up front all day in the race in his No. 42 Clorox Chevrolet. He came home in third position and moved up an impressive five positions to fourth in the overall standings after three events. The finish was Juan’s first top-ten finish in five Cup events he has entered at LVMS.

Kurt Busch loses control coming up on the inside of Montoya.  (Donna Bistran photos)

Asked after the race how he had adjusted to driving in NASCAR, Montoya said he was more comfortable.

“I think the last two, three years have been very comfortable with these cars, and it shows. When we can get the car working, it works really good. I think last year when they went from the wing to the spoiler I think it really affected me and we really struggled, and we did a lot of work over the winter with the new nose to make sure that didn't happen, and I don't know, here we are. It's good.”

Showing that he has a handle on the vagaries of driving a Stock Car, Montoya noted, “Every time you're in traffic, you suck; every time you're in clean air, you look hike a hero. That's normal.”

Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Haas Automation Chevrolet started eighth and struggled for much of the race before rallying for a top-five finish of fifth. Newman also sits fifth in the point standings after three events.