Stewart wins rescheduled Chicagoland race

Sept. 19, 2011 at 8:00 PM

JOLIET, Ill., Sept. 19 (UPI) -- Tony Stewart captured the first race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship Monday, edging Kevin Harvick at Chicagoland Speedway.

Stewart picked a good time to log his initial win of the season, jumping seven spots in the Sprint Cup rankings to second. He now trails Monday's second-place finisher Kevin Harvick by just seven points.

The two-time series champion conserved fuel down the stretch and held off Harvick to win by 0.9 seconds in a race rescheduled from Sunday due to persistent rain.

A poor second half of the season meant Stewart had to squeak into the 12-driver Chase. His last Sprint Cup win came last October in Fontana, Calif.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. staged a late charge through the field to grab third place in the initial Chase event.

Carl Edwards settled for a fourth-place finish while Brad Keselowski and Penske Racing teammate Kurt Busch rounded out the Top 5.

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