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Sprint Cup - Stewart Michigan Race Report

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Brooklyn, Aug. 20, 2012: The incredibly fast Michigan International Speedway in Brooklyn has long been known to be hard on engines, as the sustained rpms necessary to lap the 2-mile oval at speeds nearing 200 mph often pushes mechanical parts and pieces to their breaking points.

Such was the case for Tony Stewart, as a broken valve spring within the engine of his No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet relegated him to a 32nd-place finish in the Pure Michigan 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.

“It’s not something that’s the norm,” said Stewart after recording his first DNF (Did Not Finish) in 42 races. “I appreciate everybody at the Hendrick engine department. We had three different engine tuners down there trying to get it fixed for us. It wasn’t for a lack of effort. It’s not something I’m concerned about. It’s just a bad day. We have the best engine department in the world, definitely in this series, and they did everything they could do.”

Just after the race hit the lap-50 mark, Stewart radioed crew chief Steve Addington that he felt his engine was flat whenever he attempted to accelerate off the track’s corners. The problem didn’t improve, and when the caution came out on lap 65, Stewart brought his car to the attention of his crew on pit road. Two laps later, Stewart was in the garage, where a broken valve spring was deemed the culprit.

Crew members shut down the cylinder with the broken valve spring, with the hope being that Stewart could nurse his Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy to the finish on only seven cylinders.

It worked, but only for awhile. The temporary fix proved to be just that, as Stewart pulled back into the garage on lap 119.

Another flurry of activity took place beneath the hood of the No. 14 machine, and on lap 151 Stewart returned to the track. His time on the track proved to be short-lived, however, as his seven cylinders were no match for the cars with healthy V-8s that surrounded him.

After staying out long enough to overtake T.J. Bell for 32nd (Bell had fallen out of the race earlier with a broken transmission), Addington called Stewart to the garage area for good with still 20 laps remaining.

“You’ve got to do the best you can to get everything you can get,” said Stewart, who won his third Sprint Cup title last year in the closest championship battle in series history. “We saw last year how one point can make a difference. You just try to get everything you can get.”