Tony Stewart isn't generally one to celebrate moral victories, but the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion enjoyed one Sunday after finishing fourth at Bristol Motor Speedway.

"It feels like a win, even though it's not," Stewart said. "I'm really excited. We had a long way to go from Friday and every day got better and better.

"Come to Bristol and run 500 laps here and (record) a top five, that is just what the doctor ordered."

Stewart's previous finishes this season had been 35th, 16th and 33rd, relegating him to 27th in series points prior to the race.

With 500 laps, not to mention more than five hours of waiting due to rain, Sunday was a long day for any driver let alone one recovering from multiple leg surgeries.

"I feel great," said Stewart after climbing from his No. 14 Bass Pro Shops/Mobil 1 Chevrolet. "Let's do it again. This is a physical place. If you look at the lap times, we were running mid-15 seconds around here all day. It is no walk in the park, by any means."