A broken alternator couldn't keep Tony Stewart from blowing away the field one more time.
Faced with a problem right at the end of a race he dominated, Stewart simply snookered the opposition on the final two restarts and cruised to his fifth victory in seven races. And his dominant performance yesterday at Watkins Glen International in New York padded his lead in the NASCAR Nextel Cup standings.
Still, he had to hope he had enough juice left after a late caution forced two extra laps. Stewart radioed in that he had an alternator problem, forcing him to shut off some systems and switch to a backup battery. Then he sprinted away from Robby Gordon on the final restart to win the Sirius Satellite Radio at The Glen.
"The hard thing is Robby Gordon is really good getting into Turn One," Stewart said. "The big thing was to get a good restart and not be concerned with him."
Stewart did just that, leaving Gordon as nothing more than a valiant competitor who charged from his 39th starting spot all the way to Stewart's rear bumper with two laps to go. But Stewart made him slow down just before the restart.
"He got away because he stabbed the brakes then took off," Gordon said.
"The only time anybody could get close to us was on the restarts," Stewart said. "But this thing really went fast today. We had an absolutely flawless day other than the alternator."
The 24th victory of the Indiana driver's career came a week after he won for the first time at his beloved Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The first-place finish at Watkins Glen gave Stewart a 105-point lead over Jimmie Johnson, who finished fifth.
After winning, Stewart stopped at the flag stand, took the checker and drove around the track to the cheers of the crowd. But he didn't climb the catch fencing as he had after his three most recent wins.
"This place really isn't conducive to fence climbing," he said. "I'm convinced that I'm going to fall off one day and crack my head open."
* IRL: Former champion Scott Sharp won for the first time in more than two years, holding off Vitor Meira to win the Amber Alert Portal Indy 300 at Kentucky Speedway in Sparta.
Sharp's win was his ninth on the series, but his first since 2003, a streak of 40 winless races. He averaged 175.981 mph on the 11/2-mile tri-oval track and had a winning margin of 0.0779 of a second.
The 37-year-old Sharp took the lead on Lap 134 of the 200-lap race, passing Dan Wheldon. Wheldon regained the lead twice, but Sharp passed him for good on Lap 169.
* CHAMP CAR: Defending champion Sebastien Bourdais took advantage of a late crash by Paul Tracy, then pulled away from the pack to win the Grand Prix of Denver, his third straight victory and fourth of the season.
Bourdais won last year's race from the back of the pack, winding his way from 13th to first after getting bumped in Turn 1. The Frenchman avoided a pileup on the first corner this time, then waited for his chance.
That came in Lap 62, when Tracy slammed into a wall after cutting the corner too close. Bourdais moved into the lead after that and was never seriously challenged, finishing 15.27 seconds ahead of Mario Dominguez on the 1.657-mile temporary street course.
* C. MARLIN DIES: Clifton "Coo Coo" Marlin, one of NASCAR's early stars and father of current Nextel Cup driver Sterling Marlin, died early Sunday after a battle with lung cancer. He was 73.
Marlin died in his home town of Columbia, Tenn., said officials from Chip Ganassi Racing, which fields cars for Sterling Marlin.
"Obviously, our thoughts are with his family now and with Sterling," Chip Ganassi said. "Coo Coo was a husband, a father and a mentor in many ways. I saw a lot of Sterling in Coo Coo. He was certainly a vanishing breed, but certainly not a breed you'll ever forget."
Sterling Marlin had returned home from this week's race in Watkins Glen to be with his father. Scott Pruett was scheduled to replace him in yesterday's event.