Tony Stewart soldiered to a 17th-place finish in the STP 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway. The result boosted him two spots in the championship point standings to 15thsix races into the 36-race season.
Stewart started seventh in the 500-lap race around the rough-and-tumble .526-mile oval and kept his No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS among the top-10 for the first 75 laps. But a tight-handling condition in the center of the corners abetted a lack of forward bite off the corners, and it quicklymetastasized as the race wore on, dropping Stewart outside the top-20 after 100 laps.