Originally created 05/07/02

Stewart rules Richmond track

RICHMOND, Va. - Tony Stewart has no idea why he rules Richmond International Raceway.

He has three victories in seven career starts at the track and has finished in the top 10 in three of the other races.

"I don't have any secrets here," he said after pulling away from Ryan Newman on a restart with 17 laps to go Sunday to win the rain-delayed Pontiac Excitement 400. "I guess I just get around here good."

The victory was Stewart's second of the season and 14th of his career.

"I probably ran one of the most patient races I've ever run," he said. "And it wasn't because I wanted to but because I had to."

There were a track record-tying 14 caution periods and a record 103 laps run under the yellow flag on the track billed "The Action Track."

"There were a lot of guys that were being very courteous, a lot of give and take going on out there," he said. "And then there were a lot of guys that were in a big hurry, and it seemed like the guys that got in a hurry, sure enough, as time went on they were dropping out like flies."

Stewart's car wasn't cooperating early but crew chief Greg Zipadelli kept the faith.

"Greg will listen to me whine and carry on on the radio and he'll let me get depressed," Stewart said. "Then he'll come back and start pumping me up and the next thing you know, we're back where we need to be."

The victory lifted Stewart from 10th to eighth in the points race, and came from the back of the field. He qualified third, but had to change motors after qualifying and was penalized, going to the back of the field.

He was 27th when the race resumed for the final 334 laps after what amounted to a 14-hour rain delay, and gradually worked his way forward.

For much of the day, it looked as if Ricky Rudd would make history in style in his record-tying 655th consecutive start. He led 90 laps and seemed to have the dominant car until he crashed with 91 laps to go.

Sterling Marlin finished 11th and remained the points leader. He is 132 ahead of Kenseth, who passed Kurt Busch for second. Busch is third, 191 behind, and Mark Martin is fourth, giving Roush three of the top four. Martin is 193 back.


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