Stewarts Sizzlin Summer

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LOUDON, N.H. - Tony Stewart continued his blistering hot pace during the summer stretch of the NEXTEL Cup Series season with his third win in the last four weeks in Sunday's New England 300 at New Hampshire International Speedway.

Stewart dominated the race to score win number three of the season to go along with his wins at Sonoma and Daytona. The Home Depot Chevrolet was in front for 231 of the 300 lap event.

Stewart gave the crowd of more than 100,000 an encore performance of his Daytona victory celebration in the Pepsi 400 two weeks ago when he climbed the fronstretch fence to fetch the checkered flag from the flagstand.

"That's my deal," Stewart said. "If anybody else starts doing it they're copying me. Everybody's been doing burnouts. I am just really happy, the car was awesome today."

Stewart has been on a tear since the start of the summer finishing second, first, first, fifth and first in his past five races.

"It was as good as I thought," Stewart said of his potent Monte Carlo. "This thing was awesome from the start. As soon we got to the front, I knew we had a great car, but you don't know what they're showing."

Kurt Busch came up one position short of his bid for three straight New Hampshire wins coming home second. Busch bounced back from an early race spin to turn in an impressive runner-up finish.

"Tony was just too strong today," said Busch, who lost his ROush racing Ford on the 35th lap. "It's good we had a car that could come back."

Bobby Labonte gave Joe Gibbs Racing two spots in the top three finishing third in the Interstate Batteries Chevrolet. Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle rounded out the Top 5.

Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth completed the first ten finishers.

The winner averaged 102.608 mph in a race slowed 10 times by 49 laps of caution -- including once for rain, which also delayed the start by 24 minutes. There were 14 lead changes among nine drivers.

Jeff Gordon suffered another late race problem when his brakes gave out less than 15 laps from the checkered flag. After running in the Top 10 most of the day, Gordon was credited with a 25th place finish and fell further back in the championship standings.

Elliott Sadler, who enetered the race fifth in the standings, crashed into the third turn wall after contact from Mark Martin. Sadler finished 39th and dropped to ninth in the championship standings.

Another championship contender dropped down in the standings when Jamie McMurray, who came to New Hampshire eighth, crashed out of the race early and finished 40th. McMurray, who was knocked out of the Top 10 and is now eleventh, was unhappy about the incident which saw him make contact with Matt Kenseth.

"Matt must have been mad about something earlier in the year," McMurray said. "I'm not sure. He raced me really hard and I finally got up underneath him, and had him cleared and slid up. But where he wrecked me, it was pretty deliberate. I couldn't even save it. It's unfortunate.

Jimmie Johnson finished 13th but maintained his NEXTEL Cup Series point lead, which is now 77 over Biffle. Stewart has moved to within 85 points in third with Wallace and Kurt Busch rounding out the Top 5.

The NEXTEL Cup Series now heads to Pocono International Raceway for next Sunday's Pennsylvania 500.

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