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Stewart survives at Talladega, snaps winless streak

Oct 5, 2008 - 11:31 PM TALLADEGA, Alabama (Ticker) -- Tony Stewart avoided the big one Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway to snap a 43-race winless streak.

Stewart took the lead with 14 laps remaining after a 12-car pileup to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Amp Energy 500, the fourth race of the "Chase for the Championship."

Stewart's Toyota held off the rest of the field after a green-white-checkered finish to earn his first win since Watkins Glen last season.

It was Stewart's first win on the 2.66-mile tri-oval in 20 starts. He had finished second on six different occasions here.

"Man, it's one thing to get back to Victory Lane, but to do it at Talladega ... this one was for those fans up there today," Stewart said. "I knew with three DEI cars behind me it was going to be tough. But I got a good push from Regan (Smith) there, and I protected the lead."

Smith actually passed Stewart on the final lap and crossed the finish line first. But he went under the yellow line to make the pass which is illegal, giving Stewart the win.

As a result, Smith was penalized 16 spots and finished 18th - the last car on the lead lap.

Paul Menard was awarded second place, followed by David Ragan, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer.

"I knew I had one shot at (Stewart) and Paul was pushing me the whole way," Smith said. "I was told if you're pushed down there, you win the race. I don't know. I should be the one out there doing burnouts."

The big one happened when Carl Edwards got into the back of Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle on lap 174, spinning the No. 16 Ford around and back into oncoming traffic.

Biffle's car kicked off a wild collision that collected Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek, Reed Sorenson, Matt Kenseth, pole winner Travis Kvapil, Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney and Juan Pablo Montoya.

"I was pushing Greg as hard as I could and I guess I pushed too hard," Edwards said. "It's my fault, I caused it. Matt's mad at me and Greg's mad at me. All day I was riding around trying to avoid the idiot move, and today it was mine."

By causing the wreck, Edwards finished 29th and dropped 65 points behind series leader Jimmie Johnson, who posted a ninth-place finish despite falling a lap down early in the race after losing the draft.

Biffle, who won the first two Chase races at New Hampshire and Dover, wound up 24th and stands 73 points behind Johnson. Kenseth placed 26th.

"You can't blame Carl. He was trying to help us and he pushed us all the way to the front down the backstretch," Biffle said. "We had been able to push around the corner all day and I don't know if I was moving down or he was moving up, but maybe when he came to push a little bit it just instantly slid. I had my foot in the gas and it just spun the tires and went around and that's all she wrote."

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