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Late gamble pays off; Stewart earns 1st win as owner

Associated Press / June 8, 2009
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Tony Stewart won his first Cup points race as a team owner, coming from the rear of the field and taking a late gamble on fuel to win yesterday at Pocono Raceway in Long Pond, Pa.

The Sprint Cup points leader had to start at the back of the race because a practice accident forced him into his backup car. Then Stewart figured he could drive the final 41 laps without a pit stop and it paid off, helping snap a 19-race winless streak dating to last season.

Stewart won the All-Star race last month for Stewart-Haas Racing, and this victory stamped him as a true threat to win his third Cup title.

"It's just a little different when you're the one that's got to be accountable," Stewart said.

Stewart is the first owner/driver to win a points race since Ricky Rudd at Martinsville in 1998. Carl Edwards was second, followed by David Reutimann, Jeff Gordon, and Ryan Newman.

"I didn't think he was going to be a factor," Edwards said. "I was sure he was going to run out."

The first Cup points race with double-file restarts finished without a problem. The drivers meeting lasted nearly 30 minutes as last-minute questions were answered on the new restart rules that line up the 43-car field following a yellow.

"I'm sure they'll refine it and make it better, but I think it worked out pretty good," Reutimann said.

After a caution, Stewart led the field to the green flag with 45 laps to go in the 500-mile race. His six-second lead over Edwards with 10 laps left kept getting whittled away as Stewart eased off the gas and didn't push his car to save fuel.

With a lead in the points standings and a spot in the Chase for the championship all but assured, Stewart could afford to take a risk.

The two-time Cup champion sure knows about taking risks - and having them work out.

Stewart's secret to his fuel strategy? "I'm not telling," he said, laughing.

Formula One - Jenson Button won the Turkish Grand Prix in Istanbul for his sixth victory in seven races. Button overtook pole sitter Sebastian Vettel on the first lap following a mistake by Vettel and held on for a 6.7-second win over Mark Webber.

Vettel, the first driver not to win from the pole in five races at Istanbul, finished third after opting for a three-stop strategy. Button leads the standings with 61 points.

Helio Castroneves, who last month won the Indianapolis 500, beat Ryan Briscoe off pit row on the final stop and held on for the final 46 laps Saturday night to win the Indy Racing League's stop at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth.