Stewart holds off Earnhardt for Atlanta victory - - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - |

Stewart holds off Earnhardt for Atlanta victory

(Hampton-AP) -- Tony Stewart held off Dale Earnhardt Junior to win the MBNA America 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

The victory Sunday was Stewart's 13th career victory.

He slid under Ward Burton for the lead with 24 laps to go and held off Earnhardt.

One of NASCAR's most outspoken drivers, Stewart has complained all year about the aerodynamic disadvantages of his manufacturer. But he didn't have any problems yesterday, leading the most laps for the second straight race to get his first victory of the season. He beat Earnhardt by about five car lengths.

The decisive pass came in Turn One, when Stewart moved to the inside and slid in front of Burton. It was similar to the ``slide-job'' passes Stewart used throughout his sprint cars days, although most of those were on dirt.

After a 43rd-place finish in the season-opening Daytona 500, Stewart has finished in the top five in three straight races and climbed back into the points race. He's now fifth -- 101 points behind leader Sterling Marlin, who finished ninth.

Earnhardt took second from Burton with 22 laps left.

Rookie Jimmie Johnson continued his surprising start, finishing third. Matt Kenseth, forced to start at the rear because he changed engines after qualifying, placed fourth. Ricky Craven was fifth.
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