Tony Stewart climbed the fence in front of the grandstand in what has become his trademark victory celebration.
And a crowd of 100,000 at New Hampshire International Speedway in Loudon roared its approval yesterday as he grabbed the checkered flag and pumped his fist in the air -- just as he did two weeks earlier after a victory at Daytona.
Stewart started 13th and wound up winning for the third time in four races, passing at will inside and outside in a dominant performance in the New England 300.
"It was as good as I thought," Stewart said of his car. "This thing was awesome from the start. As soon we got to the front, I knew we had a great car, but you don't know what they're showing."
The win was Stewart's second on this track and 22nd of his career. "We feel like we're on top of the world," crew chief Greg Zipadelli said.
Stewart began a run of dominance after passing Ryan Newman on the 51st lap. But Kurt Busch, trying to become the only driver to win three times on the track after sweeping the races last year, got by with 60 laps to go.
Stewart reclaimed the lead after he and Kurt Busch banged twice five laps later. But he said he wasn't as dominant late in the race because the other teams began adjusting and closing the gap.
"Kyle Busch was able to stay with us longer," Stewart said. "Kyle was almost good enough to get by and Kurt did get by. But once our tires came in, we were able to get by him."
The defining moment of the race came when Stewart moved from fourth to second on Lap 68 by passing Rusty Wallace on the outside and cutting inside Kyle Busch just a few hundred feet later. Race leader Scott Wimmer nearly became Stewart's third conquest of the lap. Wimmer barely kept the lead at the line, then Stewart went by less than a half-lap later.
His Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet led 232 of 300 laps and beat the Ford of Kurt Busch by 0.851 of a second on the Magic Mile. Stewart's eighth top-10 finish in his last 11 races moves him to third in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings.
"Tony was just too strong today," said Kurt Busch, who overcame a spinout on the 35th lap. "It's good we had a car that could come back."
Points leader Jimmie Johnson, twice a winner here in 2003, finished 13th. He leads fifth-place finisher Greg Biffle by 77 points in the series standings. Stewart is 85 points back.
"They're on a tear right now," Biffle said. "This is Tony's kind of track."
Series champion Kurt Busch moved from 10th to fifth in the points race.
"I would have loved to have won today," he said. "But we're not on our last thread."
Third in the $5.1 million race was Stewart's teammate, Bobby Labonte. Next came the Chevy of Kyle Busch and Biffle's Ford.
Stewart averaged 102.608 mph in a race slowed 10 times by 49 laps of caution -- including once for rain, which also delayed the start by 24 minutes. There were 14 lead changes among nine drivers.
Kasey Kahne, Newman, Rusty Wallace, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth completed the top 10.
* CHAMP CAR: Sebastien Bourdais came up with an unlikely victory in the inaugural Grand Prix of Edmonton in Alberta, and all it took was a mistake-free race on a day when nearly everyone else was messing up.
The reigning Champ Car World Series champion came from a 10th-place start after crashing in qualifying on Friday and captured his first victory since the season-opener in April.
The Frenchman was able to slice through heavy traffic on the fast, 1.973-mile, 14-turn circuit and move into contention, but it took mistakes by both A.J. Allmendinger and his RuSport teammate Justin Wilson of England to give Bourdais a shot at the 12th victory of his career.
Oriol Servia, subbing for injured Bruno Junqueira, also avoided trouble and gave the Newman/Haas Racing team a 1-2 sweep, finishing 0.596 of a second -- about 10 carlengths -- behind his teammate.
Allmendinger started from the pole for the first time in his career and appeared on the way to his first victory until he bounced off the wall, damaging his transmission, while leading just eight laps from the end of the 88-lap event. The frustrated Allmendinger wound up 14th.
Wilson, who won his first Champ Car race a week earlier in Toronto, suddenly spun out during a restart on Lap 79. He fell all the way from second to eighth and wound up fourth.
"It was a simple driving mistake," Wilson said, looking embarrassed. "It's hard to believe."