Stewart Gets the Last Word in His First Bristol Victory

Associated Press

Tony Stewart finally won a Bristol battle with Jeff Gordon, then held off a hard-charging Kevin Harvick over the final 68 laps to win the Sharpie 500 on Saturday night at Bristol, Tenn.

It was Stewart's third win of the season and first ever at Bristol Motor Speedway, site of an altercation with Gordon earlier this season that landed Stewart on probation.

"I've been wanting to win a race here all my life," Stewart said. "I mean, this is my favorite race track and things have always happened that have prevented us from getting it."

Harvick, who won the Busch race at Bristol on Friday night, was second. Gordon, the NASCAR Winston Cup points leader, finished third and was followed by Ricky Rudd and Rusty Wallace.

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It looked for a long time like Gordon would hold off Stewart.

Every time Stewart chipped into his lead, his work would be erased by caution flags He finally got a break with a long, uninterrupted run and passed Gordon with a sweeping slide on the bottom of the track on lap 433.

It wasn't his last obstacle, though.

Gordon gave up position to a hard-charging Harvick, who quickly mounted a challenge for the lead.

Stewart held his lead as his spotters counted off laps every time he crossed the line.

He eventually got help from lapped traffic, using the slower cars to put distance between his Pontiac and Harvick's Chevrolet.

The race was rough and marred by wrecks from the beginning. There were 16 cautions.

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Richard Childress, Dale Earnhardt's longtime car owner, hinted Saturday the No. 3 could return to racing next year, but gave no indication which driver would operate it.

The No. 3, one of Earnhardt's trademarks, has not been used since his fatal accident in the season-opening Daytona 500 in February.

Since NASCAR doesn't retire numbers, it could be on a car again.

"We'll be making announcements on the 3 sometime in the near future," Childress said. "It will be an issue we'll handle by the end of the year."

Childress took the No. 3 off his Chevrolets after Earnhardt's death, choosing to run the No. 29 on the cars driven by Kevin Harvick .

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Rain put the IRL's close championship battle right up front, washing out qualifying and giving series leader Sam Hornish Jr. and runner-up Buddy Lazier the first two starting spots for today's Gateway Indy 250 at Madison, Ill.

The lineup was filled by using entrant points.

Terry Cook, who won a pole for the first time in nearly three years, will try to end a 77-race losing streak today in the Chevy Silverado 200 NASCAR truck series race at Nazareth, Pa.

Cook, who finished second earlier this month at Indianapolis, turned a lap of 129.548 mph Saturday in his Ford truck to edge 1999 Nazareth Speedway winner Greg Biffle for the top starting spot in a field of 36.

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David Brabham and Jan Magnussen came from a lap behind to win the American Le Mans Series' debut race at Lexington, Ohio.

Co-driving a Panoz LMP1-RS in the 2-hour, 45-minute sports car endurance race, the winners fell a lap behind in the first hour as the Audi R8 driven by Tom Kristensen dominated the event.

The complexion of the race changed under a caution period for a stalled car 90 minutes into the event.

Kristensen finished second.

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