Sporting News Wire Service
LOUDON, N.H. -- Clint Bowyer's No. 33 Chevrolet spun in a cloud of smoke as Bowyer celebrated victory in Sunday's Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
In the same frame, Tony Stewart's No. 14 Chevy coasted slowly across the finish line, out of fuel and out of the running for a race win that had seemed a distinct possibility barely more than a lap earlier.
Bowyer, the last driver to qualify for the Chase, and Stewart both gambled on fuel after pitting for the final time on Lap 208 of 300 at the 1.058-mile race track.
Bowyer won, beating resilient Denny Hamlin to the finish line by .477 seconds and surging into second place in the Chase standings after the first of 10 races. Hamlin leads Bowyer by 35 points as the Cup Series heads to Dover.
Stewart lost, running out of fuel off Turn 4 while leading with the white flag clearly in his sights.
"Just ran out," was Stewart's immediate, terse reaction to his fuel crisis, but it spoke volumes. The two-time Cup champion left Loudon in 11th place, 124 points behind Hamlin.
Bowyer was still in fuel-saving mode with Hamlin running him down on the final lap, but he mashed the pedal out of Turn 4.
"Wide open, stay in it -- come on!" spotter Mike Dillon radioed to Bowyer as he rounded the final corner, almost as if he were driving a thoroughbred down the stretch.
Jamie McMurray finished third and Dale Earnhardt Jr. fourth. Kevin Harvick, who led the standings after the first 26 races, ran fifth despite fighting handling problems throughout the race and is third in the standings, 45 points out of the lead. Jeff Gordon, David Reutimann, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Sam Hornish rounded out the top 10.