Tony Stewart Back in Victory Lane

Paul Arch Photo

Tony Stewart celebrates the win at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. (Photo: Paul Arch)

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Tony Stewart returned to Victory Lane with the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions for the first time since 2012 on Monday night at Pittsburgh's Pa Motor Speedway.

Stewart, who started third on the feature grid in the final edition of the I-79 Summer Shootout, took command officially during a lap 23 restart and never looked back, ultimately crossing under the final checkers nearly three seconds ahead of Lemoore, California’s Carson Macedo, and Dalton, Ohio's Lee Jacobs. Fortunately for Stewart, lapped traffic also factored in as an advantage, as race leader Tim Shaffer would become tangled with a lapped car, surrendering the point position to the former NASCAR Cup Series champion. 

“Man, this is a fun race track; so wide and so racey,” Tony Stewart said in victory lane, pilot of the Rush Truck Centers/Ford Performance/Arctic Cat/No. 14. “To be rim-riding like that, a foot off the wall, is pretty intense around here. I watched Christopher Bell race from 20th to second at the Kings Royal, so I figured it was my turn to do something special.” 

Macedo and Shaffer led the field to green on Monday night at Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway. Shaffer earned the initial advantage, soon flanked by Macedo, Danny Holtgraver, Chad Kemenah, and Stewart. Shaffer opened his advantage instantly, climbing to a near-three second lead before the main event’s first caution appeared on lap six. 

Green flag conditions resumed with Shaffer returning to the top spot, soon followed by Stewart, who made a big jump to second after passing two cars on the restart. Traffic came into play for the first time on lap 11 allowing Stewart to reel in Shaffer. Soon joined by Holtgraver, the top three cars raced nose-to-tail and side-by-side through traffic for three circuits until caution flags reappeared on lap 14, this time for Holtgraver. The nearby Pittsburgh native made incidental contact with Tony Stewart while attempting a slide job for the second position. Holtgraver did not return. 

“By the time I realized I wasn't going to be able to get back around Danny [Holtgraver], I had already checked up on the brakes and turned down,” Stewart explained. “I clipped him with my front bumper. That was about the only mistake I really made. You don't want to see things end like that. We were going to put on one heck of a race.”

Once again, green flag conditions returned with Shaffer setting the pace, now followed by Stewart and Macedo. By lap 20, traffic returned in full force allowing Stewart to track down Shaffer once again. A two car battle soon commenced into a three car battle as Kemenah entered the picture, now tracking down the top pair after taking control of the third position on lap 21. 

Unfortunately for Shaffer, his tenure at the top of the running order would come to an end eight laps sooner than intended. Contact with a lapped car while attempting to run away from Stewart in traffic forced an early retirement for the former Arctic Cat All Star champion, ultimately surrendering the top spot to the eventual winner on lap 23. “Smoke” cruised on to score the $5,000 victory; a first ever Pittsburgh’s Pennsylvania Motor Speedway feat for the Columbus, Indiana, native. 

“When I saw Lee Jacobs running the bottom, at that point I wasn't sure where I needed to be,” Stewart explained. “Rico Abreu is here with me tonight and I had him trying to help me out, but he wasn't sure where I needed to be. I figured if I got a good restart, I would just get to the top and rip eight good laps. That's what we did.” 

Macedo and Jacobs each raced by Chad Kemenah during the final circuits to secure the final podium positions. Macedo was the evening’s pole sitter, dropping as far back as fourth in the running order before finally charging back second on lap 25.

Jacobs, who started eighth on the feature grid, battled within the top-five during most of the 30-lap feature program, making a bid for a podium position as early as lap 15. 

Closing out the month of July, the Arctic Cat All Star Circuit of Champions will continue their 2017 campaign with a three day trip to The Empire State, set to invade three different dirt ovals during three straight days from July 28-30, chasing a combined winner’s share equaling $22,000. “America’s Series” will visit Outlaw Speedway, Orange County Fair Speedway and Lebanon Valley Speedway during their New York swing, awarding $5,000, $10,000 and $7,000, respectively. 

Outlaw Speedway will open pit gates and main gates at 3 p.m. on Friday, July 28. Hot laps will hit the speedway at 6 p.m,, followed by racing at 7 p.m. Those seeking additional news and notes regarding ticket pricing and facility accommodations should visit Outlaw Speedway live on the Web at www.outlawspeedwayllc.com.

Orange County Fair Speedway will open pit gates and drive-in gates beginning at 3 p.m., followed by main gates at 4 p.m. Racing will hit the 5/8-mile speed plant at 6:30 p.m., sharp. More information can be found online at www.orangecountyfairspeedway.net.

Lebanon Valley Speedway will open all gates at 4 p.m. Additional updates will be posted at the official online home of The Valley of Speed at www.lebanonvalley.com. 

 

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