Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stewart Notches Fifth Win of Year

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Stewart Notches Fifth Win of Year

Article excerpt

MARTINSVILLE, Va. -- The way Tony Stewart has been dominating at Martinsville Speedway, he's bound to eventually learn to like the place.

Stewart kept the lead through the final set of pit stops and quickly ended runner-up Dale Earnhardt's chances of making it a duel by pulling away over the final 11 laps yesterday for his second consecutive victory.

"We're getting closer," Stewart said of the track, where he started on the pole twice this season, each time setting a qualifying record."I feel like I've made great gains here, and I feel like [crew chief Greg Zipadelli] and the guys have made great gains here as well.

"You can't do it by yourself."

Stewart pulled away from The Intimidator to win the NAPA 500 by .672 seconds. It was his Winston Cup-leading fifth victory this year, the eighth of his career and the third time he's won back-to-back races.

Doing it this time with the black car of one of racing's fiercest competitors in the rear-view mirror of Stewart's Pontiac made it better.

"He didn't get the nickname The Intimidator for nothing," Stewart said of Earnhardt, a seven-time series champion. "He's as tough as they come. I knew it was going to be the toughest 11 laps of my life probably."

Instead, it was much easier than the roaring crowd anticipated.

"I couldn't catch him," said a disappointed Earnhardt. "If I could have got to him, it would have been good, but I couldn't catch him."

Earnhardt outlasted Jeff Burton for second and gained 36 points on championship leader Bobby Labonte with six races left on the schedule.

"It's going to take a whole lot of gaining and a whole lot of him finishing back there," Earnhardt said of Labonte, who now leads by 213 points. "I know we didn't gain a whole lot on him today, but we gained."

Ricky Rudd finished fourth, followed by Jeff Gordon and Dale Jarrett. …

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