Steve Stricker of the U.S. reacts after sinking a putt on the ninth green during the third round of the PGA Championship golf tournament at The Ocean Course on Kiawah Island, South Carolina, August 11, 2012. REUTERS/Mathieu Belanger

ATLANTA (Reuters) - Steve Stricker, a 12-times winner on the PGA Tour who is known for his gracious demeanor and good sportsmanship, was named the recipient of the 2012 Payne Stewart Award on Tuesday. The honor is given annually to a player sharing Stewart's respect for the traditions of the game and his commitment to uphold golf's heritage of charitable support. "For years, Steve Stricker has epitomized everything that the Payne Stewart Award represents," Tour commissioner Tim Finchem told reporters at East Lake Golf Club on Tuesday ahead of this week's Tour Championship. ...

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2012 Chase Prospects: Tony Stewart goes for title number four

15 Sep

The battle between Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards will be the standard on which all Sprint Cup championship battles will be judged from here on out. And if that's not enough by itself, Stewart's five Chase wins, the most by any Championship winning driver, is also a new benchmark.

And Stewart has another benchmark too. In his first Chase win in 2005, he won the title without winning a single Chase race -- the only driver to do that too. (Note: that's probably why he was so dismissive of any questions about a specific Chase-winning formula on Friday.)

What does this mean? Well it means that Stewart will win 10 races when he wins his third Chase, but that won't happen until 2017. So sorry Tony, you'll have to wait a while.

Honestly, Stewart winning the Chase this year may be as much of a surprise as it was last year. After starting off strongly with wins at Las Vegas and Fontana, Stewart, who (obligatory comment about how awesome he usually is in the summer), has finished outside the top 10 in six of the last 10 races leading up to the Chase. Yeah, he does have one win in that stretch (Daytona), but last year heading into the Chase, he had five top 10s in the final 10 regular season races.

Best Chase Track: That's Chicago, site of tomorrow's Geico 400. Stewart has three wins and 9 top 10s in 11 starts there. Pretty good.

Worst Chase Track: By average finish, it's Talladega, but doesn't it seem that Talladega is low on the list for everyon? It's that whole lottery thing. Stewart's second worst average finish at a Chase track is at Charlotte, where he has one win and 12 top 10s in 27 starts.

NB's Prediction: 4th. Stewart gets the benefit of the doubt here because of his performance last year. This is the ultimate in toss-up scenarios for Smoke. Given last year, it's not surprising if he's in the battle for the title until the final race. Given the last 10 races, it's equally not as surprising if he's not.

Tags: carl edwards, , Chase Prospects, Chase race, , , , standard, , Talladega, Tony Stewart,
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Panthers RB Stewart ‘optimistic’ he’ll play Sunday (Yahoo! Sports)

12 Sep
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers running Jonathan Stewart returned to practice after missing the season opener with a sprained right ankle.
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Rivera optimistic RB Stewart will play in opener (Yahoo! Sports)

04 Sep
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) -- Panthers coach Ron Rivera says he's optimistic running back Jonathan Stewart will play Sunday in the season opener at Tampa Bay.
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Trouble ends promising days for Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

12 Aug

A potential win spun out of Tony Stewart's grasp on Sunday and so did the points lead out of Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s as the two ended up outside the top 20 thanks to late race spins.

Stewart spun in turn 7 after getting his right side tires on the inside curb in turn 7 on lap 71. The contact with the curb, wet from rain during the previous caution flag just a few laps prior, sent Stewart's car around and into the inside retaining wall. He finished 19th.

At the time Stewart, a five-time Watkins Glen winner, was running second to Brad Keselowski after overcoming a pit road equipment violation that put him back in 25th place. Immediately after the violation, Stewart made up 12 spots in seven laps. e's now 8th in the points standings, and as of now, would still start the Chase tied with Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson atop the standings with three wins.

Junior, winless on road courses in NASCAR, ran in the top 10 for most of the day and was in position to maintain his position atop the Sprint Cup points standings, until he spun with eight laps to go.

[Related: Marcos Ambrose victorious in a slip-n-slide Watkins Glen finish]

"I just got in the corner and made a mistake and that was pretty much all there was to it. I was just overdriving the car," Junior said.

The mistake and ensuing pit stop for flat spotted tires dropped Junior all the way to 28th place and put teammate Johnson into the points lead, by one point over Greg Biffle and two points over Matt Kenseth, who finished sixth and eighth, respectively. Junior is now fourth, 17 points back.

"I know most people look at it and they just think we're a shoe-in because we're so far ahead of 11th, but after wrecking out the last two weeks in a row, we needed to get a solid finish and this is definitely not a good track for me, so it's good to get a solid finish," Kenseth said.

That last pit stop that Junior made because of the spin put him privy to the chaos that ensued over the last 1.5 laps around Watkins Glen, a situation that he didn't want to be in.

"(Oil) was everywhere. You couldn't see it, but it was everywhere," Junior said. "So you didn't know where to run and I saw the leaders were coming and I was just trying to get out of the way and they were in oil and I was in oil and then I watched everything that happened in front of me. It was a bad deal, I think. The track shouldn't have oil on it. It's a tough deal I guess. But it finished out with all that oil on the track. I don't really like that. It was a bad ugly finish at the end."

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Tags: , , , mistake, , , , stop, Tony Stewart, , Watkins Glen
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Panthers extend Stewart for $36.5M over 5 yrs – Jonathan Stewart | CAR

12 Aug
Panthers signed RB Jonathan Stewart to a five-year, $36.5 million extension through 2017.
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The battle for the top 35 is hardly a battle at all

02 Jul

The much-discussed deal between Tommy Baldwin Racing and Stewart-Haas Racing to keep the No. 10 car in the top 35 in points this season to guarantee a spot in the 2012 Daytona 500 is going swimmingly. The No. 10 is 33rd in the owner's points standings, 80 points ahead of 36th place, despite the lack of a top-20 finish through the first 17 races of the season.

Why such a large gap? Well, it's pretty simple.

Eight cars started and parked at Kentucky on Saturday night. Given that the full starting field for a Sprint Cup race is 43, you can do the easy math and realize that yeah, just simply outlasting the start and parkers on Saturday was a guaranteed 35th-place finish at the minimum. Heck, when Tony Stewart had EFI problems on Lap 27 and slowed and went to the garage, he only fell to 41st. And last week at Sonoma? Joe Nemechek parked his car after one lap.

No, this isn't a crucifixion of the start-and-park practice. Given the current payouts in NASCAR, it make financial sense for sponsor-less teams on a shoestring budget to save money on tires and engines and call it a day shortly after the green flag on a regular basis. Very few, if any, drivers actually want to run five laps and quit. (It can be argued that some teams have made starting and parking a profitable practice. But, that's for a different day.)

Plus, car counts are down, so starting and parking isn't as dangerous as it once was. Forty-five cars were entered at Kentucky; 44 cars are entered for Saturday's race at Daytona. Outside of the Daytona 500, which featured 49 entries, the highest car count has been 47.

Tommy Baldwin Racing's other car, the No. 36, primarily driven by Dave Blaney, is holding the previously treacherous 35th spot. (The 36 is the car that would have won the Daytona 500 if the race had been called because of the jet dryer fire.) Its margin over the 36th place No. 33 car is a comfortable 65 points. How comfortable? Well, the No. 33 has earned 67 points in its last nine races. Yeah, unless something drastically changes, it's safe to say the top 35 for 2012 is set.

Tags: , , lack, Lap, , , spot, , Stewart-Haas Racing, Tommy Baldwin Racing, Tony Stewart
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