NASCAR Stewart overcomes stomach cramps to win again
He beat Ron Fellows by less than two seconds at Watkins Glen.
WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) -- Tony Stewart has been called all sorts of names in his stormy racing career. Nobody is likely to ever call him a quitter, though.
Plagued by stomach cramps throughout the Sirius at the Glen on Sunday, Stewart fought through the pain and won NASCAR's road race at Watkins Glen International for the second time in three starts.
"You can tell guys that you don't give up on them, and the race goes on and they know you're sick, to put on a performance like this shows that you're not giving up on them," Stewart said afterward, still grimacing. "These guys have never given up on me no matter what's happened. With a car like we had today, I wasn't going to take a win away from those guys."
Took lead early
Stewart, who started fourth, showed his muscle right from the start, passing pole-sitter Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon on the second lap. Then the stomach began churning after a caution on lap 15, and with another 75 laps remaining his team had Boris Said scrambling to get ready for a switch, if only for show.
"We went green before we could get everything together," crew chief Greg Zipadelli said. "We were trying not to make it too easy on him. We were stalling."
Stewart went on to lead 46 of the 90 laps on the 11-turn layout and passed Casey Mears for the lead on lap 76. By then Canadian road-racer Ron Fellows was the only driver left to mount a challenge. Fellows, who started last, moved to second on the next lap and managed to draw within less than two seconds.
But out front was where Stewart felt best and he wasn't about to give it up.
"The only thing Zippy told me was the No. 1 car was the only guy running lap times like we were," said Stewart, whose victory at Watkins Glen in 2002 helped send him to the Cup title. "Once we got in the lead, I really wasn't trying to push the car too hard, but once Ron got behind us I knew I was going to have to get everything I could out of it."
Fellows, who also finished second to Gordon in 1999, lamented the final caution that flew on lap 76 when Brendan Gaughan slid off course.
"I was kind of hoping we wouldn't get that last caution," said Fellows, who finished 1.517 seconds behind Stewart. "We had been faster, but on a clear track he was able to stay in front. He seemed to be in control. I was working a lot harder. We needed some more lapped traffic."
Stewart climbed out of his car after winning and was whisked back to his motor coach in a golf cart to attempt to recover. That delayed the celebration in victory lane, marking the third straight week that has happened in NASCAR.
Martin takes third
Mark Martin finished third, followed by Mears and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Johnson lost his transmission early and finished 40th, and Gordon, his teammate, also lost his with seven laps to go but managed to finish 21st and move within 40 points of Johnson's Nextel Cup lead.
The series standings will be reset after four more races to five-point intervals among the top-10 drivers. They will be eligible to run for the Nextel Cup championship over the last 10 races.
Ryan Newman lost his brakes and finished one lap down in 26th place. That dropped him two spots to 12th in the standings and allowed Jeremy Mayfield, who finished seventh, to take over the 10th spot.