With one big move, Tony Stewart put Juan Pablo Montoya and a sluggish season well behind him.
After a mundane start, Stewart is back in Victory Lane – and in the thick of Chase contention.
Stewart’s outside pass on Montoya with three laps left was enough to win Sunday at Dover (Del.) International Speedway and snap a 30-race winless streak.
“Our guys at our shop have been digging,” Stewart said. “None of these guys get down. We have been down, but they haven’t gotten down. That is what carries you to days like today at the end of the day.”
Stewart was stuck in 20th in the standings before he rallied in Dover. Stewart hadn’t won on the concrete mile track since he swept both Cup races in 2000.
The No. 14 team erupted in celebration in the pits after winning for the first time since last July in Daytona.
It was a long time coming for the two-time Cup champ.
“It’s been such a tough year,” Stewart said.
He also knows their work is far from finished.
“We realize this could put the 14 team in contention to make the Chase,” he said. “That’s not good enough.”
Meaning, he wants to not only make the 12-driver field, but know he’s a top contender to win another championship. His 48th career win pushed him to 16th in the points standings and aided his cause for a wild-card spot.
Seven-time Dover winner Jimmie Johnson appeared to have the car to beat, but jumped a restart and had to serve a pass-through penalty. Johnson argued over the radio and stayed on the track before he finally hit pit road.
With Johnson out of the picture, Montoya and Stewart battled for the lead the rest of the race.
Jeff Gordon was third, followed by Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski. NASCAR said Keselowski, the reigning series champion, failed a post-race inspection because the entire front of his No. 2 Ford was too low. This was crew chief Paul Wolfe’s first race back after serving a two-race suspension for unapproved parts.
Simon Pagenaud won the crash-filled Detroit Grand Prix for his first IndyCar victory.
The Frenchman finished 5.6 seconds in front of James Jakes in the second of two races on the 2.36-mile Belle Isle street course.
The reigning IndyCar Rookie of the Year hadn’t finished better than second.
Mike Conway finished third. Scott Dixon was fourth, followed by Dario Franchitti and Marco Andretti.
Shawn Langdon won the NHRA Summernationals for his third Top Fuel victory of the season, beating teammate Khalid alBalooshi in the final at Old Bridge Township Raceway Park in Englishtown, N.J.
Langdon had a run of 3.853 seconds at 316.38 mph in the final. He took the season points lead with his second consecutive victory.
Matt Hagan topped the Funny Car field to take the season points lead, Mike Edwards raced to his third Pro Stock win of the year, and Michael Ray won in Pro Stock Motorcycle.