October 5, 2008 - Talladega, AL - Tony Stewart capped off a weekend sweep for Toyota at Talladega Superspeedway with a victory in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup Series (NSCS) race, one day after Todd Bodine used a thrilling last lap, last turn move to capture the checkered flag in the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series (NCTS) event on the 2.66-mile Alabama oval.
Stewart survived a pair of multi-car incidents after the race's midpoint to position himself in front of the field for the final 'green-white-checkered' sprint. Stewart kept the field at bay coming out of turn four, before Regan Smith dove to the inside coming to the finish line. However, Smith passed Stewart below the yellow 'out of bounds' line, an illegal move per NASCAR rules, thus awarding Stewart the victory.
"(Smith) got a gap there off of turn four and that gave him a run and I just had to protect my line," said Stewart, following the race. "You hate to have to do that, but to win here at Talladega I would just about wreck the whole field."
The victory is the 33rd of Stewart's 10-year NSCS career, but his inaugural win in his 20th-career start at the 2.66-mile Alabama oval. It is also his first NSCS win since Watkins Glen in 2007 and first driving an NSCS Camry.
"It's one thing to get back to victory lane, but to do it at Talladega is awesome," continued Stewart. "I've wanted to win here for so long. I was just patient until the last half of the race there and finally got ourselves in position to stay up front. This thing drove awesome all day, it was just a matter of getting with the right guys."
The 37-year-old Columbus, Ind.-native led four times for a race-high 24 laps in the 190-lap event which saw a NASCAR-record 28 different leaders among the 43-car field. It is Stewart's 15th top-10 finish through 30 races in 2008.
Stewart's win is the 10th for Toyota in NSCS competition since joining the series in 2007. JGR teammates Kyle Busch (eight), Denny Hamlin (one) and Stewart (one) have combined for the victories.
Kenny Wallace (12th), Busch (15th), Ken Schrader (16th) and Michael Waltrip (19th) also posted top-20 finishes for Toyota on Sunday. Camry drivers Dave Blaney (22nd), Mike Skinner (31st), Brian Vickers (35th), David Reutimann (37th) and Hamlin (39th) were also in the field.
Coupled with the NSCS victory by Busch and the NASCAR Nationwide Series (NNS) win by Stewart at Talladega in April, and Todd Bodine's NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series win Saturday afternoon, Toyota swept all four NASCAR races at Talladega in 2008.
With the win, Stewart catapulted four spots in the unofficial NSCS point standings, now sitting seventh after four of 10 races in the 'Chase for the Sprint Cup,' now 203 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson. Busch (11th) and Hamlin (12th) are also in the top-12 in points after Talladega.
The next race on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule is at Charlotte's Lowe's Motor Speedway, Oct. 11.
In Saturday's NCTS race, Bodine scored his second NCTS victory of the season, sweeping the season's two superspeedway races in the No. 30 Lumber Liquidators Toyota.
Bodine was third when the field took the white flag in the 94-lap event, pushing fellow Tundra driver Busch on the inside groove for the final circuit. The frontrunners jockeyed for position coming out of turn four, and Bodine shot to the outside of Busch to take the checkered flag 0.074 seconds ahead of runner-up Ron Hornaday.
"Coming down the back straightaway, I'm thinking that I would just finish second here and push Kyle (Busch) down there and try to get him the win, get a good finish and get a good points race," said Bodine, following the race. "We came off of (turn) four and I hit him and got him sideways, and I had to go to the outside. It was incredible, and this Tundra is sitting in victory lane."
Bodine started fifth in the No. 30 Tundra and led three times for 10 laps. Combined with his victory in the season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway, the 2006 NCTS champion has won three-straight superspeedway races.
"I don't think anybody masters these speedway races," continued Bodine. "It's about being in the right place at the right time and getting lucky breaks like I did down there. I think there was only one master to these tracks and that was Dale (Earnhardt) Sr. -- and the rest of us are still learning from him."
The win is the 14th of Bodine's NCTS career, the most among Toyota drivers. It is Toyota's 49th victory in NCTS competition since joining the series in 2004 (120 races).
Busch finished third in the No. 51 Miccosukee Resorts Tundra, the 23-year-old's 11th top-10 finish in 13 NCTS starts in 2008. Mike Wallace -- making his 2008 series debut -- finished fifth in the Germain Racing No. 9 Tundra, giving Toyota three spots in the first five finishing positions.
Brian Scott (seventh) and Skinner (ninth) also finished in the top-10 for Toyota, while Tundra drivers Johnny Benson (11th), John Andretti (14th), Scott Speed (15th), David Starr (19th), Terry Cook (23rd) and Joey Logano (26th) were also in the field.
Benson's 11th-place finish -- coupled with Hornaday's runner-up result -- slipped Benson to second in the unofficial NCTS driver standings following Talladega, now 39 points behind Hornaday. Tundra drivers Bodine (fourth), Skinner (sixth) and Cook (10th) are also in the top-10 in points with five races remaining.
The next race on the NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series schedule is at Virginia's Martinsville Speedway, Oct. 18.
Toyota NSCS Driver Finishes at Talladega Superspeedway
1st, TONY STEWART
12th, KENNY WALLACE
15th, KYLE BUSCH
16th, KEN SCHRADER
19th, MICHAEL WALTRIP
22nd, DAVE BLANEY
31st, MIKE SKINNER
35th, BRIAN VICKERS
37th, DAVID REUTIMANN
39th, DENNY HAMLIN
Toyota Drivers in NSCS Point Standings – following Talladega Superspeedway**
7th, TONY STEWART 5,515 points
11th, KYLE BUSCH 5,387 points
12th, DENNY HAMLIN 5,383 points
16th, BRIAN VICKERS 3,168 points
25th, DAVID REUTIMANN 2,820 points
29th, MICHAEL WALTRIP 2,410 points
31st, DAVE BLANEY 2,356 points
** unofficial point standings
Toyota NCTS Driver Finishes at Talladega Superspeedway
1st, TODD BODINE
3rd, KYLE BUSCH
5th, MIKE WALLACE
7th, BRIAN SCOTT
9th, MIKE SKINNER
11th, JOHNNY BENSON
14th, JOHN ANDRETTI
15th, SCOTT SPEED
19th, DAVID STARR
23rd, TERRY COOK
26th, JOEY LOGANO
Toyota Drivers in NCTS Point Standings – following Talladega Superspeedway**
2nd, JOHNNY BENSON 2,988 points
4th, TODD BODINE 2,791 points
6th, MIKE SKINNER 2,769 points
10th, TERRY COOK 2,460 points
12th, DAVID STARR 2,396 points
17th, BRIAN SCOTT 2,059 points
18th, KYLE BUSCH 2,017 points
24th, SCOTT SPEED 1,368 points
** unofficial point standings