Stewart Dominates Restarts, Wins Las Vegas
This one was all Smoke and no fire.
Tony Stewart dominated the field on restarts and held off Jimmie Johnson to win Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
One year ago, Stewart appeared set to end his Victory Lane drought at the track - one of three he has not yet won on in the Sprint Cup Series - but a late-race pit road penalty slowed his charge.
Not Sunday. He took the lead for the first time on Lap 134 and other than during green-flag pit stops, held close to the front.
Greg Biffle finished third, Ryan Newman fourth and Carl Edwards fifth.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got off to a strong start, leading 70 of the first 73 laps. That's more laps than he led in all of last season (52).
David Reutimann blowed his engine on Lap 74 to bring out the second caution of the race. While most lead-lap cars pit for two tires and fuel, several - including Earnhardt - took four tires. On the restart on Lap 78, Kevin Harvick held the lead while Earnhardt was mired back in the field at 18th.
Matt Kenseth quickly passed Harvick for the lead on Lap 78.
Kenseth led for 21 laps until Johnson, who started the race in a backup car, passed him for the lead on Lap 99.
A round of green-flag pit stops started on Lap 112 and just as they were coming to an end, Travis Kvapil's engine blew up, bringing out the third caution of the race.
On the restart on Lap 134, Johnson retained the lead followed by Tony Stewart and Kenseth.
Stewart quickly passed Johnson on the restart for the lead.
With 100 of 267 laps remianing, Stewart held a sizable lead followed by Johnson and Kenseth.
Another round of green-flag stops began on Lap 172. When they were completed on Lap 179, Stewart continued to lead followed by Johnson and Kenseth.
Debris on the track brought out a caution on Lap 205. All of the lead lap cars pit for fuel and tires with Stewart retaining the lead on the restart on Lap 210. He was followed by Earnhardt, Jamie McMurray Ryan Newman and Kenseth.
With 40 laps remaining, Kenseth had moved into second behind Stewart.
Debris on the frontstretch brought out another caution on Lap 229. All lead lap cars pit under the yellow - many for just fuel. Clint Bowyer and Brad Keselowski elected not to pit and took over the lead on the restart on Lap 234. Stewart was third, Kenseth fourth and Greg Biffle fifth.
Less than half a lap after the restart, Stewart dived to the bottom of the track and moved from third to first in a daring move.
Landon Cassill's engine blew up on Lap 245, bringing out the sixth caution of the race. Most of the lead lap cars elected not to pit. On the restart on Lap 259, Stewart continued to lead.
Kyle Busch spun on Lap 260 to bring out the eighth caution. On the restart on Lap 264, Stewart continued to lead followed by Johnson and Kenseth.