Richmond International Raceway had a subdued start to the race but by the time the Capital City 400 presented by Virginia is for Lovers event was over, NASCAR's reigning Sprint Cup champion was not happy.
Short track racing can always be heated because of the tight fender-to-fender bumper-to-bumper battling that goes on. But actually that wasn't necessarily why Tony Stewart was angry.
The Stewart-Haas Racing #14 was a good car all night. Stewart qualified in the middle of the pack, yet after a slow start was able to move through the field and up to the top five just a quarter of the way into the race.
By about the two-thirds mark, Stewart finally had wrestled the top spot away from Carl Edwards who led the most laps. The two battled each other for awhile until a caution with less than a 100 laps to go found Edwards penalized for jumping the restart. Edwards thought he was the leader but regardless, it sent Edwards towards the back and Stewart leading the race. But that wasn't what Stewart was unhappy with.
A late race caution by NASCAR for supposed debris from Jeff Burton hitting the wall, took away Stewart's lead. And Stewart didn't agree with the debris caution. Or as he stated afterwards: "When the caution is for a plastic bottle on the backstretch, it's hard to feel good about losing that one." (Source - Sporting News)
But Stewart's ire wasn't directed just towards NASCAR. His own team got an earful after a less-than-stellar pit stop at the end of the race, dropping Tony off the lead. He eventually finished third behind second place Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the race winner, Kyle Busch.
Stewart simply said of his team's ill-timed bad pit stop: "But we've got some work to do on pit stops right now. I don't know what their malfunction was, but I'm pretty ticked off about it tonight."
On the bright side
Of course, Stewart has a surly way about him and that's just his style. The good news for Stewart was the fact he lead 118 laps and finished a solid third place after two so-so efforts at Texas and Kansas; re-establishing himself as a bona-fide championship contender. He's currently eighth in the point standings. And remember, Stewart already has two wins in his pocket as they head towards the Chase.
This was the ninth event on the Sprint Cup calendar and marked the one quarter mark on the schedule. The next race is at Talladega where drivers' tempers can once again get heated by the entire fields close side-by-side pack racing. Though 'Dega isn't Stewart's best track, he did have a seventh last time there and had a win four years ago.
Source - NASCAR, Racing Reference
Daryle has been involved in motorsports most of his life and has three decades of experience inside racemarketing, plus for several years has blogged about every type of racing.