Stewart wins at Watkins Glen

Saturday, August 14th 2004, 5:59 am
By: News On 6

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. (AP) _ Tony Stewart overcame an upset stomach and cramps in his legs to win Sunday at Watkins Glen International.

It was the second win for Stewart in the Sirius at The Glen, one of two road-course races each year on the NASCAR Nextel Cup circuit. He has three victories in that discipline.

The 2002 series and Watkins Glen champion also got his second win of the season and the 19th of his career. He complained of feeling ill early in the race but decided to stay in the car as road-course ace Boris stood by to relieve him.

The winner went back to his hauler as soon as he exited the track and was not immediately available for comment. He was driven back to his motor coach in a golf cart to change his uniform and attempt to recover.

Stewart, of Columbus, Ind., who started fourth after qualifying was canceled because of a wet track and the field was set by car-owner points, led 46 of 90 laps on the 11-turn serpentine layout. His Chevrolet beat that of road-course star Ron Fellows by 1.517 seconds.

``We had to work hard, but I just didn't have enough left for Tony after that last caution,'' Fellows said. ``They gave me everything I needed in a car, but I'm disappointed.

``Obviously, we were second best.''

Finishing third in the $4.6 million race was Mark Martin in a Ford, followed by Casey Mears in a Dodge, and the Chevy of Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Polesitter Jimmie Johnson blew an engine for the second week in a row but held the top spot by 43 points because teammate Jeff Gordon had a transmission problem late in the race. Gordon finished 21st and Johnson 40th.

The series standings will be reset after four more races to five-point intervals among the top-10 drivers. They alone will be eligible to run for the championship over the last 10 of 36 races.

``I just made a mistake,'' Johnson said. ``We tried a little different shifter. I came from second trying to hit third and fell right into first.''

Gordon also had a transmission problem and slowed dramatically near the end to keep running. But he didn't use the mechanical problem as an alibi.

``We had a good car, but we didn't have enough car for Tony today,'' he said.

Stewart showed his muscle right from the start. Gordon passed Johnson on the second lap, but Stewart got by both of them for the lead before they got back to the line. Stewart went to the lead for the final time by passing Mears on the 76th lap.

Stewart averaged 92.249 mph in a race slowed five times by 11 laps of caution. There were 13 lead changes among nine drivers.

Completing the top 10 were Kevin Harvick, Jeremy Mayfield, Ricky Rudd, Matt Kenseth and Kurt Busch.

Defending race champion Robby Gordon wound up 16th.

Earnhardt remained third and Stewart fourth in the standings. They were followed by Kenseth, Elliott Sadler, Busch and Harvick. Bobby Lebonte is ninth, and Mayfield the last of the top 10 in points.