Stewart And Foyt Share More Than A Number

Even the harshest NASCAR critic could not find fault with the outcome of the NASCAR finale at Homestead Sunday evening. Point systems tweaks and eventually a complete overhaul, made some including me, wish that more emphasis was made on winning. In a classic two-car fight to finish, it was the two championship contenders that were not only fighting for the win in the race, but the winner would win the championship. NASCAR’s Chase format, gave themselves and the fans one to remember.

Indiana’s Tony Stewart, despite several setbacks, fought on, even keeping his crew up via their two-way radio. Problems on the track which included a hole in the lower front grille of his car sent Stewart to the back twice before the halfway mark. Luckily for the Stewart-Haas Racing Team, no damage was done to the radiator. Nicknamed “Smoke, ” Stewart fought his way back with a spectacular drive through the field, passing 116 cars through the course of the race. Add to it a gutsy pit strategy call by crew chief Darian Grubb which the television commentators and yours truly initially questioned, set up “Smoke” for the final stint of the race.

Following a short rain delay, he restarted fourth, two spots ahead of Edwards and quickly drove to the lead. He was never headed by Edwards who admitted in his post-race interview that he gave it all he had. Hats off to Edwards, who recorded the best all-time average finish in the Chase of 4.9. Edwards tied Stewart in points losing out on the tie-breaker -wins. Incredibly, it was Stewart, winning a record, five wins in the 10-race Chase ended up winning the Championship. Edwards did win one race earlier in the year in Las Vegas.

What did A.J. have to say? He watched the race from his home in Houston, said about the driver-owner who three years ago chose the number 14 in honor of his childhood hero.

“It was a great race,” said Foyt afterwards. “I was a little worried in the beginning because it seemed like something happened to Tony every time he got to the front. He had to win it to win the championship and I think Tony drove the best race of his life. It was great to see the 14 win again. I am real proud of him!”

Stewart is perhaps the only prot

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