Early Accident Hobbles Stewart at Homestead

After rising to 19th from his 36th-place starting spot in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season finale Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart was on his way toward securing a solid finish in the 267-lap race around the 1.5-mile oval.

But when a multicar accident involving Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Casey Mears, Aric Almirola and Ty Dillon clogged up the backstretch on lap 47, Stewart’s No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS became collateral damage.

As Stewart slowed to avoid the crash, he was hit from behind, which sandwiched his car between two others cars, badly damaging the front end and sides of his Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 machine. Numerous trips to pit road were needed to make repairs, and while the No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR) squad worked fast and got Stewart back onto the racetrack without losing a lap, the car was damaged just enough to impact performance.

The alignment of the front end was off, interior sheet metal that had been ripped away affected the car’s aerodynamics, and damage to the header pipes curtailed engine performance. It all conspired to leave Stewart two laps down in 29th-place when the checkered flag dropped.