Stewart Knocks Out Field

JOLIET, Ill. - Tony Stewart was once again in the spotlight on Sunday, both during and after the race. Stewart scored his first victory of the season winning the Tropicana 400 at Chicagoland Speedway, his first Nextel Cup Series victory since his triumph at Lowe's Motor Speedway last October.

But the capacity crowd of 75,000 wasn't pleased with the way Stewart made it to victory lane. On a lap 136 restart, Stewart made contact with Kasey Kahne as the field raced into the first turn. The impact sent Kahne's Dodge spinning into the outside wall and collected a total of seven cars before it was over including polesitter Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Whether it was Stewart or Kahne's fault depends on your point of view.

"That's just Tony Stewart doing what he's been doing all year, driving like a moron, you know? There's no reason to do that stuff," said Kahne's crew chief Tommy Baldwin. "He gets away with it all he wants, and all NASCAR does is fine him. He's got plenty of money. The guy needs to sit out a race."

"He definitely needs to get suspended, and he should have his (backside) beat," said Ray Evernham, owner of Kahne's team, Evernham Motorsports. "That's the problem with him. Nobody has ever really grabbed him and given him a good beating.

"If he doesn't get suspended, maybe I'll do that."

"It's a shame we can't win a race without something controversial happening," Stewart said in victory lane. "I don't know what happened to Kasey, whether he checked up or what. I could have had alot of damage to our car after something like that too so it wasn't something I wanted to do."

The win was Stewart's 18th career Nextel Cup victory. He led five times for 160 laps in the 267 lap event.

Point leader Jimmie Johnson was second followed by Dale Jarrett. Gordon came back to finish fourth with Jeremy Mayfield completing the top-five.

Terry Labonte, Sterling Marlin, Joe Nemechek, Michael Waltrip and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top-10.

The Nextel Cup Series takes a week off before returning to action on July 25th at New Hampshire International Speedway.

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