- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 26, 2008

FONTANA, Calif. (AP) — Tony Stewart was dominant yesterday in winning his second straight NASCAR Nationwide Series race, holding off hard-charging Kyle Busch again.

Stewart beat Busch, his teammate in the Sprint Cup series, in a 1-2 Toyota sweep in the Nationwide season-opener at Daytona. He made it look a lot easier in the rain-postponed race at Auto Club Speedway as he led 136 of the 150 laps on the two-mile track formerly known as California Speedway.

It was the fourth victory for two-time Cup champion Stewart in what was previously known as the Busch Series but his first win at any track besides Daytona International Speedway.

“The car was awesome. I’ve got to hand it to my crew chief, Dave Rogers, and his guys,” Stewart said. “They made this car real, real good, and there were a lot of cars out there that weren’t real good.

“We could stay out front, and those other guys would wear their tires out and wear themselves out, and we could just take care of our tires and do what we needed to do,” Stewart added.

Both the leaders were close to running out of gas at the end, but they made it as Stewart crossed the finish line 2.408 seconds — about half the final straightaway — ahead of Busch.

“Tony was pretty much in a league of his own for some reason,” Busch said. “Overall, having to come back from the back a couple of times, it was a good race.”

Newman’s encore

A week after winning the Daytona 500, Ryan Newman added a 10th-place finish in the rain-delayed Auto Club 500, which finished yesterday before the Nationwide race.

That left Newman second behind Kyle Busch, the fourth-place finisher, in the season standings, trailing by six points as NASCAR’s Sprint Cup series heads for Las Vegas on Sunday.

“The car was just OK,” Newman said. “At times we were a seventh-place car, and at other times we were a 15th-place car. If you average it out, I think we did a little bit better than we could have.”

Tenth was exactly where Newman’s Penske Racing Dodge was late Sunday night when NASCAR decided to postpone the conclusion of the race following an unsuccessful five-hour attempt to dry the two-mile Auto Club Speedway.

No three-peat

New series leader Kyle Busch couldn’t pull off the three-peat he was hoping for.

After winning the Craftsman Truck Series race on Saturday, the new Joe Gibbs Racing driver said he hoped to be able to add victories in the Cup race and in the Nationwide Series event that followed yesterday’s Cup event.

He couldn’t pull it off.

“It’s a good championship points day,” the hard-driving 23-year-old said. “It was pretty cool out there to run the way we did in our Toyota. Unfortunately, we didn’t have quite the car to get up there and contend with those boys at the end.”


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