LOUDON NH - SEPTEMBER 19: Clint Bowyer driver of the #33 Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet is sprayed with champagne and beer as he celebrates with his crew in victory lane after Bowyer won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on September 19 2010 in Loudon New Hampshire. (Photo by Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR)

NASCAR In New Hampshire: Clint Bowyer Kicks Off Chase By Outlasting Tony Stewart In Fuel Mileage Gamble

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Transcript: Tony Stewart Discusses His Disappointment After Running Out Of Fuel

Tony Stewart ran out of gas with two laps to go on Sunday, costing him a victory in the first Chase race at New Hampshire.

Stewart finished 24th instead of first, which cost him 94 points. Stewart spoke with TV and radio reporters after the race.

A LAP AWAY FROM AN INCREDIBLE WEEKEND, YOUR EMOTIONS? "I'm not happy, that's for sure, but we went down swinging. It's hard to lose one that way but at the same time it was fun racing Clint like that. He was definitely the fastest car and congratulations to those guys. It's a tough way to start the Chase but I'm proud of my guys. Darian (Grubb, crew chief) kept swinging at it all day and finally on that last set of tires we got it halfway decent.

YOU WERE GREAT IN QUALIFYING, FAST IN HAPPY HOUR AND SEEMINGLY UNBEATABLE ON RACE DAY. IF YOU HAD THE CALL TO DO IT OVER, WOULD YOU? "Yeah I would have settled for second. If you knew exactly how much gas you have it would be different, but you never know. It's part of the sport, always has been. It's what makes it exciting when you never know until the last lap what's going to happen."

MENTALLY WHERE ARE YOU AS FAR AS THE CHASE? CAN YOU WIN THIS? "Who knows? There is so much that can happen in nine races. I promise you this: This Old Spice/Office Depot Chevy team is not going to give up. We'll do the best we can and give it our best shot."

CAN YOU PUT IT IN WORDS WHAT THAT WAS LIKE? "Yeah, it sucks. It wasn't much fun. Congratulations to Clint and those guys. He had a great car all day. He did a good job of saving fuel and I didn't do a good job."

TALK ABOUT THE GOOD THAT CAME OUT OF TODAY: "It's kind of hard to find some."


New Hampshire Chat Recap: What Fans Said About The Wild Fuel Mileage Finish

After 26 races of buildup, the Chase finally arrived today in New Hampshire.

And in the kind of wild finish that only a fuel mileage race can provide, Clint Bowyer made his gas last longer than Tony Stewart, who ran out just a little more than a mile from the finish.

Bowyer, the last driver to qualify for NASCAR's playoff, opened the Chase with a bang by winning and vaulting himself up to second in the points.

Denny Hamlin remained the points leader.

In the comments section below is a recap of what fans had to say during the first Chase race.


Kurt Busch's Team Reportedly Gets New Hampshire Penalty

Lee Spencer of FoxSports.com reported Friday that Kurt Busch's team had been busted for "harboring an extra set of tires" it obtained from a go-or-go-home team.

This morning, the penalty was revealed. According to Spencer:

As a penalty, NASCAR kept Busch off the track for the first 15 minutes of the second practice session of the weekend as well as took away one of the team's six sets of practice tires.

Teams are allowed six sets of tires for practice and qualifying at New Hampshire. (Busch) will retain all eight sets of his tires for the Sylvania 300.

In the Spencer story, crew chief Steve Addington is quoted as saying it was a "miscommunication with NASCAR."

Yeah, right. I don't believe that a smart, veteran crew chief like Addington didn't know what his team was doing with the extra tires.

That leads to a question: Why risk any rule-bending in the Chase?

I suppose it depends how major the rule is – and what you anticipate the consequences will be.

Apparently NASCAR viewed this as a minor rule violation, since it only imposed a penalty for practice. I'm not at the track, so I don't know if NASCAR is planning any further action (such as probation or a fine for Addington), but that doesn't seem likely.

Still, what if NASCAR had deemed this a points violation? It just doesn't seem worth it.

Then again, I'm not a crew chief. And maybe Addington felt like he was learning some valuable information for the race by reportedly using two fresh tires along with two scuffed tires to make a qualifying run (practicing a two-tire strategy for a green-white-checkered?).

And obviously, he didn't anticipate any issues with NASCAR.

Again, though, I have to wonder: Why risk it?


With Lack Of Sponsorship, Kyle Busch May Be Forced To Close Truck Series Team

When Kyle Busch announced he was forming a new Camping World Truck Series team last December, he certainly didn't anticipate the financial troubles he's encountered with Kyle Busch Motorsports this season.

KBM was intended to be a multi-truck operation (perhaps as many as four); a sparkling new race shop remains under construction; Busch hired one of the best minds in the Truck Series, Rick Ren, to run his competition department.

But sponsorship turned out to be much harder to find than he thought; for most of the season, Busch has been running part of the team out of his own pocket; KBM has been reduced to running one partially funded truck.

Apparently, that can't last into next year without sponsorship. On Friday, Busch answered a question about possibly closing his team without a sponsor by saying, "I think it's going to be pretty detrimental (to the Truck Series) to not have myself in the series."

Though he said he doesn't have a deadline to find sponsorship before making a decision on KBM's future, Busch said it's been an eye-opener as to how difficult the search for funding can be.

"For myself, it's hard," he said. "It's very hard. Look at Tony Stewart. He's got to find half of a sponsor for next year (to go along with Office Depot). Jeff Gordon's got to find something for next year. Mark Martin has had HendrickCars.com – that's not a sponsor, that's Rick Hendrick putting his money on that car.

"It's unfortunate the way the economy is. It's going to be difficult for us race teams to stay in business without sponsors on our trucks or our cars."

Busch criticized some other truck teams for taking less money than they should. The market for sponsors has been watered down by those teams who have accepted $250,000 or $300,000 in sponsorship dollars for the entire season, Busch said.

Though those decisions are out of survival reasons, Busch knows that if other teams take fewer dollars, it makes it tough for upper-echelon organizations like KBM to charge sponsors a higher amount.

"That's just killing the Truck Series," Busch said. "You can't do that."

Busch also said it was more difficult than it should be for teams to get sponsors because they "have to work through so many hoops."

"For instance, I can't think Sprint enough. They do a great job for the Sprint Cup Series," he said. "But it locks out Verizon, it locks out AT&T. It locks out any other telecommunications company you'd try to get in.

"The tobacco debacle now, with the United States government (a ban on advertising). That's locked out people who have the money to do it."

Busch said that's a common theme: Those who have the money can't or won't sponsor a team; those who want to sponsor a team don't have the money to do it.

"So you're fighting two avenues there," Busch said. "Being an owner and being able to talk to all of these guys, I'm kind of finding that out."


Kevin Harvick On Why Chasers Shouldn't Have Their Own Points System

Over the last few years, there's been an ongoing debate about whether Chase drivers should have their own points system in order to keep the playoff close over 10 weeks.

Fans, media and even drivers such as Tony Stewart have suggested that such a system be put into place – the idea being that if a Chase driver wrecks or has a mechanical failure, he'd only get 12th-place points as opposed to the 43rd-place points that would basically ruin his shot at a championship.

But don't count Kevin Harvick among the supporters of a special points system for Chase drivers.

"Having a bad week is part of this sport," Harvick said Friday morning at New Hampshire. "You still have to race the other 42 guys. If you want to have your own points system, let's just have 12 cars on the track and call it IROC. Because it won't work."

Harvick said what he enjoys most about NASCAR are that winners have to beat everyone and do so through achieving a variety of factors: Durability, being creative and pushing the envelope and avoiding wrecks.

"I think creating a points system for the Chase (drivers) would be a total mistake because that's not what our sport is about," he said. "Our sport is about trying to make the race and people having to put their stuff on the trailer and go home. It's always been about who could not break engines and not break parts and pieces.

"You'd open up a can of worms that wouldn't be fun, because it's just not about 12 guys."

Do you agree or disagree with Harvick? Should the Chase drivers get their own points system?


NASCAR In New Hampshire: Blogging The Start Of The Chase

It's time to start asking a legitimate question: Can Jimmie Johnson win five straight Sprint Cup titles?

Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin and a few others might have something to say about that. But as some have noted, Johnson is the champ until someone knocks him off.

"I think he's still the guy to beat," said Harvick, who led the points all season. "He's won the last four, so how can he not be, until somebody beats him?"

Oh, and by the way – Johnson won in June at the New England track.

New Hampshire hasn't been a make-or-break race over the years – some drivers have overcome poor races at NHMS to win the title – but none of the Chase drivers wants to be in a huge hole after the first race.

"It's pretty devastating and disappointing to come out far behind after the first race," Busch said.

Follow along with our blog keeping track of all the news and developments from New Hampshire (and don't forget the live race chat on Sunday).

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