Tony Stewart’s chance at making big gain on top 30 in Cup points foiled by track-bar mishap

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Tony Stewart‘s bid to make the top 30 in the Sprint Cup points standings, which would make him eligible to compete for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, took a hit in Sunday’s AAA 400 Drive For Autism race at Dover International Speedway.

Stewart suffered a mechanical failure on Lap 343, 57 laps from the finish. His Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet began spewing heavy oil and fluid, causing Chris Buescher to spin. Martin Truex Jr. also slipped but managed to maintain control.

“We knew exactly what happened,” Stewart told FS1. “The track bar mount broke on the rear end, the rear end side, not the chassis side. When it happened, it punctured the oil tank. So that’s the oil you’re smelling. You could see it coming down pit road, just going back and forth, left and right.”

Stewart was piloting a backup car after wrecking in practice on Friday.

Stewart came into Sunday’s race ranked 37th in the Sprint Cup standings and 59 points out of the 30th-place cutoff spot. The two drivers he was chasing to break into the top 30 — 30th-ranked Regan Smith and 31st-ranked Matt DiBenedetto — both suffered early problems Sunday, which gave Stewart a great chance to make up a good patch of ground in the standings.

But with the track-bar incident, Stewart’s gain would be minimal. Smith and DiBenedetto, meanwhile, finished 39th and 40th, respectively.

If he reaches the top 30 in points, Stewart still would need to win a race to qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.