Tony Stewart has credited his crew chief Darian Grubb for the decisive strategy move that helped him claim his fourth victory of the season on Sunday at Kansas Speedway.
The two-time champion twice during the race pitted for two new tires instead of four to gain track position, a move that was instrumental to his win, specially during his final stop, when he has able to claim the lead and make the most of the clean air up front.
Stewart credited his crew chief Grubb for the decision, which proved to be the right one for them, despite not working for others. Reigning champion Jimmie Johnson and his crew chief Chad Knaus used the same strategy but were unable to remain in contention in the closing laps.
"Darian made the call," said Stewart. "We got two tires earlier in the day and were able to go really quick on them, so it was pretty much in our opinion a no-brainer of what to do.
"The guys that took four could just never gain the track position back. We had a really good car on two i. Darian and these guys on the pit crew, they are the ones that got us the win. They got us track position and I was able to pick which line I wanted on the restart and that won us the race."
Grubb said they had started pondering their strategy earlier in the race when they also gained track position with a two-tire stop. He said getting out first on the final stop was crucial to their move working as planned.
"We started looking at it when we did two [tires] earlier in the race," said Grubb. "Tony was able to get out there in clean air and was able to take off. The other guys who took two [tires] ended up seventh and ninth. So Tony was able to get that clean air and just take off. He did an awesome job today; the entire pit crew and everybody did an awesome job all day long."
Stewart was under pressure in the closing laps of the race as Jeff Gordon was trying to make the most of the four new tires he got on his final stop, although he would run out of laps to get close enough to him.
Stewart said, however, that he was driving well within his limits not to abuse his tires in case a caution came out again.
"He [Gordon] was getting bigger in my mirrors," said Stewart. "But the big thing was just not driving the tires off the thing. You had to keep the tires underneath you in case you got a caution and a green-white-checkered. So we had a little bit left, but we didn't leave too much out there."
Following his victory, Stewart has now closed into Mark Martin's Chase lead. He made up 39 points on the veteran as he aims to reclaim the championship lead, one that he held for thirteen weeks during the regular season.
"Yeah, I'm excited about that one," said Stewart. "It's the perfect scenario for us right now on the stand in points. This team is going to have some momentum going in to California next week. These guys on the Office Depot/Old Spice team are doing a great job, so we've got some momentum on our side now."
After winning at Kansas Stewart flew to Knoxville, Iowa, to compete in a Late Model Nationals event. Starting from 27th following an engine problem, he recovered to finish seventh.