Stewart Takes Off To Win Kobalt Tools 400

Las Vegas, NV – March 11 – Tony Stewart can cross off the Las Vegas Motor Speedway from the list of tracks he had yet to score a victory as he launched his Chevrolet on late restarts to hold off Jimmie Johnson for the win in the Kobalt Tools 400.

Stewart dove three-wide for the lead on one of the restarts and then turned back challenges from Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and Johnson to maintain the top spot as a final caution flag on lap 261 set up a four-lap dash for the win. As the green flag appeared, Stewart took off once again ahead of Johnson as behind them Roush-Fenway Racing teammates Kenseth, Biffle, and Carl Edwards raced three-wide for position, resulting in Kenseth’s car bouncing off the turn two wall with Edwards and Biffle losing ground to the leaders. That left Johnson as Stewart’s main competition for the win and while he could get to Stewart’s rear bumper, Stewart proved to be too strong and he crossed the finish line for his first career win at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

“We had an awesome day and felt like we had a good solid balanced race car,” Stewart said after winning his first race of the season and sixth in the last thirteen races dating back to last year. “Our car was so, so strong today on restarts and we could get to turn one so fast and that was key to the victory today.”

Johnson was forced to settle for a close second place finish and afterwards said he did all he could to steal the win away from Stewart.

“The car was pretty close to the fastest car all day long and we traded the lead back and forth with Tony (Stewart),” Johnson stated, “They were awfully strong and were the fastest car all day long.” “The last two restarts, the second to last one I just blew it and he got away from me. The last start I felt like I got a good one and he still cruised away. My only chance was to be at his outside through turns one and two and I didn’t have that opportunity as he had the lane at that point. I drove my guts out but just didn’t get it done.”

Biffle recovered from the turn-two scuffle to drive to his third consecutive third place result of the season and afterwards was impressed with Stewart’s restart ability.

“I have never seen a car drive off like that on the restarts,” Biffle stated, “They’ve got something going on with their cars that has carried over from last year.” “We were tight in the center of the corner and couldn’t get back to the throttle as quickly as the others. It was clear the 14 (Stewart) and the 48 (Johnson) were a little better than we were so like we thought, we were a top-five car and are excited about third.”

Ryan Newman made a late-race charge to finish in fourth place while Edwards rounded out the top five.

“Matt (Kenseth) spun his tires a little bit on the restart and I went down to the apron,” Edwards said explaining the final laps, “He gave me a ton of room and we just got all bunched up over there.” “I got a run on him and then Greg (Biffle) and I went around him and he ended up getting wrecked. I feel terrible as he did a really good job,” Edwards continued, “The whole team did a really good job and at the end it was nice to have three cars up there with a shot at the win.”

Clint Bowyer was sixth followed by Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, and Trevor Bayne in seventh through ninth place respectively. Dale Earnhard Jr. led twice for 70 laps but lost track position on an early pit stop and rounded out the top ten at the finish. Despite racing in the top five for most of the day, Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth finished 22nd after the scrape with his teammates in the final circuits.

“I honestly really don’t know, “Kenseth commented regarding the action in the closing laps, “Carl (Edwards) just laid back and got by me three-wide and then it just didn’t seem like there was a lot of room getting into one.” “And then I did get clear behind him and he just stopped in the middle of the corner. I just got into him a little bit and then I don’t know if I got the air pulled off the right side or what happened. I thought I got a good start, I was right with Tony (Stewart) and I didn’t lay back.”

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