Fuel Mileage Frustrates Stewart
By: Dustin Long - @dustinlong on July 14, 2013 | 5:58 P.M. EST
Saving fuel, Stewart lost the lead to Brian Vickers on lap 287. Stewart ran out of fuel on lap 300 just after the final restart where he was second. (Photo: Getty Images)
It’s been that way since his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at this track in 1999 when he ran out of fuel three laps from the finish while leading in what would have been his first series victory.
Although he’s won via fuel mileage at this track, he lost another one Sunday.
“We thought we were good with that last caution,’’ Stewart said. “Little bit of a surprise.’’
Saving fuel, Stewart lost the lead to Brian Vickers on lap 287. Stewart ran out of fuel on lap 300 just after the final restart where he was second.
He finished 26th. Stewart fell three spots to 13th in the points but his victory keeps him in a wildcard spot with seven races left before the Chase field is set at Richmond in September.
Stewart lost here in Sept. 2010 when he ran out of fuel late, but won at New Hampshire in Sept. 2011 - when he won the championship - with a fuel-mileage gamble at this track.
Crew chief Steve Addington said the decision to stretch fuel was to keep track position. Drivers talked about how difficult it was to pass. By keeping track position, the team thought, it had put itself in position to score its second victory of the season.
“We gambled on it,’’ Addington said. “We thought that we got enough caution laps to finish the race. We were crunching numbers. On the conservative side of our numbers, we were going to be half a lap to the good. Whether we didn’t get it full that last stop, it looked like it was up in the vent hose, we felt confident we got it full. That’s what we got to go off of.
“It was a risk, yeah, but we thought if we stayed out front we could win the race. It just didn’t work out. I don’t know what much more to say than believing in my guys crunching numbers and saying we got the cautions we needed to get and we just came up short. I don’t really know much more to say about it.’’
Despite the finish, Stewart wasn’t disappointed with the way the rest of the race went.
"I’m really happy with the way today went,’’ Stewart said. “We had a good car all day. We were just kind of in traffic. When we got up there we could stay there. We weren’t going to win the race but if we didn’t run out fuel, we were going to finish second.’’