Tony Stewart came of age today, dominating the Checker Auto Parts-Dura Lube 500K, a race in which Dale Jarrett barely avoided disaster and took another step toward his first Winston Cup championship.
Stewart won for the second time this season, matching the rookie record set in 1987 by the late Davey Allison.
"I never would have thought we could have won one race," said Stewart, who previously won in Richmond on Sept. 11. "We knew the team was capable, but I didn't think they had a driver who knew how to win this year."
Stewart, 28, started 11th in the 43-car field and took control of the race on the 159th of 312 laps around the one-mile Phoenix International Raceway oval.
The only time Stewart trailed the rest of the way was during a green-flag pit stop sequence. But even the stops worked in his favor as his Joe Gibbs Racing crew got him in and out in a hurry.
Stewart's Pontiac beat Mark Martin's Ford to the finish line by 2.081 seconds, a lead of nearly a full straightaway.
Jarrett, who slammed into the back of Martin, was able to continue. He can wrap up the $2 million title simply by finishing eighth or better next week in Homestead, Fla., or by finishing ninth and getting the five-point bonus for leading at least one lap.