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Stewart benefits from late Gordon spin to win at Watkins Glen

Aug 12, 2007 - 11:31 PM WATKINS GLEN, New York (Ticker) -- Tony Stewart and Jeff Gordon both spun out at Watkins Glen International. Fortunately for Stewart, Gordon picked the wrong time to lose control.

Stewart capitalized on Gordon's spinout with two laps left and held off Carl Edwards to win Sunday's NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Centurion Boats at The Glen.

It was the third victory this season and 32nd career for Stewart, who has won three of the last four races to climb into sole possession of fourth place in the series standings.

Stewart was running second in a Chevrolet Impala when Gordon's Chevy spun out in turn 1 of lap 88, relegating the series points leader to a ninth-place finish.

It was an ironic turn of events, since Stewart suffered a near-identical spinout through the same turn on lap 44.

"I saw Jeff lose it the same way I lost it," Stewart said. "It was both of ours to lose today. Jeff and I by far had the best two cars."

A four-time winner at Watkins Glen's 11-turn road course, Gordon entered with a comfortable 366-point cushion atop the series standings.

The four-time series champion expressed some disappointment following the race but kept his late miscue in perspective, citing his sizable standings lead.

"I was just driving hard," said Gordon, who still boasts a 344-point advantage. "I just overdrove it into turn 1 - pretty much the same thing that happened to Tony earlier.

"It was just stupid. I knew I had to push; Tony was really good. I wanted that win really bad and I know points don't mean anything, so I pushed - and I pushed too far."

Stewart held off Edwards' Ford Fusion to capture his fourth career checkered flag at this 2.45-mile track, joining Gordon atop the all-time list in that category.

A two-time series champion, Stewart has won three of the last four races here and finished second in this event last season.

"We've always been fast here; we've always been a contender if we didn't have a problem," said Stewart, who averaged 77.535 miles per hour and won $239,286. "It's definitely one of the tracks on the circuit that we look forward to coming to.

"Four out of nine races here we've won. We're almost batting .500 here."

Stewart seemed like a long shot to win after wheel-hopping through the first turn of lap 44, a mistake which dropped him to 19th and gave Gordon the lead.

"I just made a mistake and wheel-hopped it," Stewart said. "I lost it that way and just had to keep fighting back. We had to do the hardest job of anybody today - fighting back through there. We just had to keep the pressure on Jeff and hope he made a mistake, and that's what happened."

Sunday's 90-lap event marked the Watkins Glen debut of the Car of Tomorrow - or COT - which received poor overall reviews from Stewart.

"This thing was terrible 10-deep in traffic," he said. "The further forward you got, the better it was. ... I didn't want those cautions late. I wanted to run a long green-flag run, because I felt like we could run (Gordon) down if we had a shot at it."

Edwards assumed second place when Gordon spun out and immediately surged right behind Stewart.

"Carl caught me off guard even at the end there," Stewart said. "We lost too much momentum and gave Carl too big of a run. But (my car) was awesome on the last lap."

Edwards lost control on the final lap and spun into the gravel trap inside of turn 10 en route to an eighth-place finish.

"I think that's the same thing that happened to Jeff going into turn 1," Edwards said. "It's just real hard not to do that in these cars, and you can only go so hard. I could keep up with Tony, I just knew I wasn't going to be able to catch him without really barreling in there."

Chevrolets captured the top four finishing spots. Denny Hamlin ran second, followed by Jimmie Johnson and Canadian Ron Fellows, a road-course specialist. Robby Gordon rounded out the top five in a Ford.

Kurt Busch ran 11th in a Dodge Avenger to solidify his hold on the 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Nextel Cup.

Busch, who took the 12th spot after his dominant win at Pocono last week, now owns a comfortable 96-point cushion over Penske Racing teammate Ryan Newman, who placed 13th in a Dodge.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. entered seven points behind Busch but suffered a major blow to his Chase hopes by withdrawing with a blown engine in lap 63.

Earnhardt, who ran near the front for the first half of the race, finished 42nd in a Chevy and fell to 14th in the standings, 100 points behind Busch.

The race was red-flagged with 15 laps left due to a heated skirmish between defending winner Kevin Harvick and rookie Juan Pablo Montoya.

Harvick was running fifth heading into turn 1 when Montoya rammed his Dodge into the back of Harvick's Chevy, sending both cars into a spin. Jeff Burton's Chevy also was involved in the wreck.

Harvick angrily climbed out of the cockpit of his car and immediately confronted Montoya, who claimed Martin Truex Jr. had bumped him into Harvick's back. The two drivers shoved each other before a group - which included Burton - broke things up.

"I just got run over," Harvick said. "It all goes up in smoke because people get impatient. (Montoya) seems like he runs over someone every week."

"I got out of the car and told Kevin it wasn't my fault," Montoya said. "He comes and starts saying things and I don't appreciate that. I tried to tell him, 'Dude, if it's not my fault, don't push me around like that.'"

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