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HOMESTEAD (AP) — Tony Stewart’s 15-year streak of winning at least one NASCAR race ended when he took his car to the garage late in Sunday’s race at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

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A Stewart-Haas Racing spokesman said the grill got knocked in on his No. 14 Chevrolet and the engine overheated.

The run began with a victory as a rookie on Sept. 11, 1999, at Richmond International Raceway, and is tied for fourth-best in NASCAR history. Richard Petty holds the record with 18 straight years.

Stewart had the worst season of his career and his struggles continued at Homestead. He fell a lap down early in the race and was never a threat before parking his car.

He still had a vested interest in the race: Stewart is the co-owner of Kevin Harvick’s car, and Harvick was racing for the championship.

Stewart’s performance was below average even before he was involved in an Aug. 9 accident that killed Kevin Ward Jr. during a dirt track race in upstate New York.

Stewart said earlier this week in an interview with The Associated Press that he has struggled with NASCAR’s current rules package. The three-time NASCAR champion also doesn’t have a feel for Goodyear’s tires, and has not been able to execute decent restarts.

He also has been bothered by lingering pain in his surgically repaired right leg, which he shattered in a sprint car accident in 2013. It cost him the final 15 races of last season.

Stewart will end this year with a career-worst three top-fives and seven top-10s.

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Stewart did win a sprint car race in July, extending his streak of 36 consecutive years with a racing victory in at least one series. He has not raced a sprint car since Ward’s death.

 

(© Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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