Stewart takes canny victory

Tony Stewart won the Sears Point round of the NASCAR Winston Cup, but only after race leader Robby Gordon was delayed battling the lapped car of Kevin Harvick

Stewart takes canny victory

Gordon was making a one-off return to the series for the road course event, having been dropped by the Morgan-McClure team shortly after the start of the 2001 season. The former CART driver was making the most of his road racing background to lead from Stewart and polesitter Jeff Gordon, until the incident with Harvick 14 laps from home. Harvick had rejoined the race right behind the leader after serving a penalty in the pit lane. The rookie expected Gordon to let him past so he could get back on the lead lap, but Gordon wanted to keep Harvick behind him as a cushion between himself and the chasing Stewart.

Contact was made several times, and as both cars slowed Stewart was able to slip past and snatch the victory. Afterwards Gordon seemed baffled by Harvick's behaviour, saying he expected their respective crews to work out a deal on pit road that would keep Harvick behind.

"I thought he would race me clean and if I could keep him between me and Tony, that would keep one of the guys racing me for position from making jabs at me," said Gordon.

"I didn't anticipate it coming from Kevin, but it's racing. I honestly didn't think that he would knock me sideways, and he didn't just do it once, he did it about four times."

Harvick was unrepentant however.

"You gotta do what you gotta do," he said. "If [Gordon] would have just let me by, Tony wouldn't have got by. I don't feel sorry for him one bit."

Behind the controversy, Jeff Gordon extended his points lead by finishing third. His nearest championship rival Dale Jarrett was only 26th after gearbox difficulties and late contact with Johnny Benson.

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