Faulty alternator doesn't slow Stewart


Tony Stewart Stewart

WATKINS GLEN, N.Y. -- A broken alternator couldn't keep Tony
from blowing away the field one more time.

Faced with a problem right at the end of a race he dominated,
Stewart simply snookered the opposition on the final two restarts
and cruised to his fifth victory in seven races. And his dominant
performance Sunday at Watkins Glen International padded his lead in
the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings.

Still, he had to hope he had enough juice left after a late
caution forced two extra laps. Stewart radioed in that he had an
alternator problem, forcing him to shut off some systems and switch
to a backup battery. Then he sprinted away from Robby Gordon on the
final restart.

"The hard thing is Robby Gordon is really good getting into
turn one," Stewart said. "The big thing was to get a good restart
and not be concerned with him."

Stewart did just that, leaving Gordon as nothing more than a
valiant competitor who charged from his 39th starting spot all the
way to Stewart's rear bumper with two laps to go. But Stewart made
him slow down just before the restart.

"He got away because he stabbed the brakes then took off," Gordon said. "He's a great racer, but second is just first

Stewart used the same tactic to get away from Boris Said on the
76th lap.

"I had great restarts all day, but Tony got me and I got bogged
down," explained Said, who quickly lost the second spot to Gordon.

Scott Pruett, who finished fourth, was even more impressed.

"They could have taken 10 more restarts," he said. "We
weren't going to catch him."

Stewart has become a master of restarts, resembling the late
Dale Earnhardt when he has the lead.

"The only time anybody could get close to us was on the
restarts," Stewart said. "But this thing really went fast today.
We had an absolutely flawless day other than the alternator.

"I don't know what we need to do to keep this thing going, but
we've got to."

Crew chief Greg Zipadelli said hard work and a lack of
complacency has the team on its incredible roll. He said he has
been reminding the team not to let up.

"This is like a fantasy. I hope it lasts," Zipadelli said.
"Smoke has been just fired up. I haven't seen him this focused in
the seven years I've been around him."

The 24th victory of the Indiana driver's career came a week
after he won for the first time at his beloved Indianapolis Motor
Speedway. The first-place finish here gave Stewart a 105-point lead
over Jimmie Johnson, who finished fifth.

After winning, Stewart stopped at the flagstand, took the
checker and drove around the track to the cheers of the crowd. But
he didn't climb the catch fencing as he had after his three most
recent wins.

"This place really isn't conducive to fence climbing," he
said. "I'm convinced that I'm going to fall off one day and crack
my head open."

Now he heads back to his hometown, Columbus, Ind., where the
Hoosiers are honoring his Indianapolis victory with a parade
Monday. Stewart, always looking to utter a good quip, had one for
the celebration.

"I'm just scared that the kids are going be to throwing darts
at me," said Stewart, who for most of his career has been booed
but now is a fan favorite. "I'm feeling the love now. It's a lot
better than dodging grenades."

Stewart won the $4.6 million Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen
for the second year in a row. It was the fifth road-course win for
Stewart in five years. He won in June on the only other NASCAR road
course -- the serpentine layout in Sonoma, Calif.

It was his third win on this 2.45-mile track known as New York's
Thunder Road. He started on the pole because rain Saturday
prevented the completion of qualifying and forced NASCAR to set
most of the 43-car field on car-owner points. Stewart was easily
the fastest driver of those who took qualifying laps before the
rain came.

In the race, his Chevrolet led a record 83 of 92 laps and beat
the Chevy of Gordon by 1.927 seconds on the 11-turn track that
snakes through the hills south of Seneca Lake.

Stewart is virtually assured of being no worse than third when
NASCAR resets the standings at five-point intervals for the top-10
drivers after four more races. Then the 10-race Chase for the
Nextel Cup begins Sept. 18 at New Hampshire International
Speedway, where the 2002 Cup series champion won last month.

He and 38th-place finisher Greg Biffle share the series lead
with five wins apiece.

Road-racing specialist Said finished third in a Chevy, followed
by the Dodge of road racer Scott Pruett and Johnson's Chevy.

The winner averaged 86.804 mph in a race slowed seven times by
14 caution laps. There were nine lead changes among seven drivers.

Rusty Wallace was sixth, followed by Mark Martin. Brian Vickers,
Joe Nemechek and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.