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Tony Stewart readies for ‘The Chase’; wins Atlanta race

Tony Stewart chats with media (file photo)

With Sunday’s win at the Atlanta Motor Speedway in Hampton, Georgia, Tony Stewart seems like he’s ready for the upcoming chase. with one race left to go, the Indiana native looks like a very serious contender.

The breakthrough on Sunday night gave Stewart his first victory of the season with a dominating performance at the track in suburban Atlanta.

Stewart led more laps (176) in the Emory Healthcare 500 than anyone else combined and pulled away from Carl Edwards on the last restart to win by a comfortable 1.316 seconds. Stewart snapped a streak of 31 races without a win, the second=longest drought of his 12-year NASCAR Cup career, surpassed only by a 43-race gap over the 2007-2008 seasons.

The driver of the Number 14 car has been one of the most consistent performers in the series since a slow start to the season. Ten of his last 12 races have resulted in top-10 finishes.

With the Chase looming, Stewart, now 39, will be looking for his third championship, but first as a car owner.

Next week’s race at Richmond, is actally the regular-season finale. Stewart is one of 10 drivers who’ve already clinched spots in the 12-man Chase, with Kevin Harvick, the points leader, Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch leading the way.

Stewart is fourth in points, followed by Karl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth and Denny Hamlin. There are several drivers trying to grab the last two spots.

Currently, Greg Biffle is 11th and Clint Bowyer is 12th, but they are being challenged by Ryan Newman, Mark Martin.

compiled from staff & NASCAR reports

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