Stewart Puts Chevrolet in First Victory Lane This Year

Three-time defending NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) champion Tony Stewart checked another track off his bucket list with an exciting win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway (LVMS). The driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet led a race-high 127 laps on the way to his 45th career win after starting in seventh position. Stewart’s win was the first for Chevrolet in 2012.

With a dominating performance, Stewart collected a personal milestone of winning at LVMS for the first time in his NSCS career, and has earned at least one victory in 14 consecutive seasons. He now sits seventh in the standings with three races in the books for 2012.

“Just an awesome day,” Stewart said after the race. “We felt like after Happy Hour yesterday we had a really good, solid, fairly balanced racecar. That's probably the best I felt leaving Happy Hour in a long time.
           
“The hard part was just looking at the time sheet, seeing how many guys, we were all right together speed wise. You knew it was going to be a tough day to get an advantage. It didn't take long in the day to see who the three guys were. I felt like we were the third guy in the group.  But definitely Matt Kenseth and Jimmie (Johnson) were guys we were going to have to battle to the end with.”

It was Stewart's first win with new crew chief, Steve Addington, and the driver was happy with the performance. 

"He's been pretty nervous to start with here, but he's doing an awesome job. I didn't even think about it, the way he said it, we win the championship, and it is hard to come into a team after they've won a championship like that. I don't know that there are too many guys other than a guy like Steve Addington that could step into a role and succeed Darin Grubb and do the job he is doing. Really proud of Steve. Really proud of our guys. I mean it is the same guys that we had last year, just throwing in a little bit different leadership. We had a great leader with Darian, and I miss him, but I'm proud of our new leader, Steve.

“Just nerve wracking end of the day for sure,” Stewart said about the race. “Obviously, from the driver's side, not knowing what the pit strategy is going to be. That's the hard part for Steve. That's where he makes his big money, making those clutch calls like that. We pulled out, two tires, a couple guys behind us on two, it was pretty nerve wracking knowing we were going to have to get going.

“Every time the caution came out, you knew that was another heat cycle on the tires. Our car was so, so strong today on restarts. We could get to the start/finish line and get to turn one so good today, that was a big key in holding these guys off. Seemed like we were a little bit weaker than the guys behind us for the first three laps. Then the next three laps, we would break even. After six or seven laps, we would start pulling away.
           
“It was a matter of getting a good restart, hitting our marks for a couple laps, going on."