Stewart beats Montoya for first Cup win of 2013

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Tony Stewart reeled in and passed Juan Pablo Montoya with three laps remaining to win the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Raceway for his first Sprint Cup victory of 2013.

Montoya won the race off pit road after a caution period caused by a Denny Hamlin wreck with 24 laps to go, and was on the outside of Jimmie Johnson as the two prepared for a restart with 19 laps left. Johnson then appeared to have badly burned the former Indianapolis 500 winner on the restart as he pulled away, but NASCAR said Johnson jumped ahead of the Turn 4 acceleration zone and penalized the five-time Sprint Cup champion with a drive-through penalty.

“I was half-throttle the whole frontstretch and at some point, I gotta go,” Johnson told Fox Sports afterwards. “In this situation, NASCAR has the judgement to decide whether you jumped the start or not, but [Montoya was] not even going so I’m not if his car broke or was off-power…I’m running half-throttle down the frontstretch waiting for him and he never [came.]

“[Crew chief] Chad [Knaus] even told me on the radio that something had happened and I should just take off and not worry about it, and then we were called on it.”

At that point, it appeared Montoya would finally break through for his first Cup victory on an oval. But Stewart continued to eat into Montoya’s lead and with three laps left, he pulled off the race-winning pass on the outside lane.

“It’s been such a tough year,” Stewart said to Fox Sports in Victory Lane. “…We’ve let [our fans] down for a long time. Hopefully today, we’ll start building momentum back now.”

Montoya managed to hold on to second place over Jeff Gordon, who stretched his fuel and tires over the final 99 laps to get a third-place finish. Kyle Busch led 150 laps on the day but had to settle for fourth at the finish, and Brad Keselowski rounded out the Top-5 in a nice bounce-back effort for him.

Andretti Autosport picks James Hinchcliffe for last 3 races of season

Andretti Autosport James Hinchcliffe
Chris Owens/IndyCar
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James Hinchcliffe will finish the NTT IndyCar Series season for Andretti Autosport, replacing Zach Veach in the No. 26 Dallara-Honda.

The team made the announcement Friday afternoon that Hinchcliffe will return after racing for Andretti at Texas Motor Speedway, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Indianapolis 500.

Hinchcliffe, who also has worked as an IndyCar on NBC analyst and pit reporter, will race in the Oct. 2-3 doubleheader race weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course and the Oct. 25 season finale at St. Petersburg, Florida.

“It’s always unfortunate to have to change drivers this far into a season, but we have to look at finishing the year the best we can for the 26 team and start evaluating and looking at options for 2021,” team owner Michael Andretti said in a release. “James has an existing relationship with our team that we’d love to build on and it makes the most sense for him to step in for these last three races. We are looking forward to seeing what he can do.”

Hinchcliffe has a season-best finish of seventh in the Indy 500. He had been working on trying to put together a deal for next season after scrambling to secure a partial schedule this year when he lost his ride at Arrow McLaren SP after 2020 with a year left on his deal.

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“I know, probably better than most, what Zach is feeling right now, and I have to say that he has handled everything about as class act as you can,” Hinchcliffe said. “I’ve known Zach as a teammate, before that as a colleague and even before that as a friend, and he is a guy that I respect in every way. I know he is a fighter and will fight back to where he wants to be.

“For me now, my focus is 100% on racing the Harvest GP and getting the best possible results for Gainbridge, for Honda, for Michael and for the team. I obviously haven’t been on a road course in a while, but at least the last time I was, it was here at IMS! Hopefully that puts us in a good position to go out there and have a strong weekend.”