(WOMR file photo)
What is up with the reigning Sprint Cup champion?
The reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, Tony Stewart, reluctantly donned his boxing-inspired red velvet “Smoke” robe one last time Thursday night at Texas Motor Speedway. Stewart was honored as the track’s Racer of the Year for 2011.
And on Friday afternoon, Stewart donned a dunce cap after scraping the wall during final practice for the Samsung Mobile 500. Stewart’s backup car for Saturday evening’s race was the same Chevy that dominated here in the fall, when he led 173 of 334 laps. Stewart also won in the car at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, a sister 1.5-mile track to TMS, last month.
“I just got loose and didn’t have enough racetrack to get it gathered-up. So, driver error,” said Stewart, prior to qualifying his backup No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet Impala 29th (186.944 mph) after a late-afternoon engine swap. Because he changed cars before the qualifying session, Stewart will not have to drop to the rear of the 43-car field for Saturday night’s scheduled 334-lapper.
Stewart actually joked about his struggles Thursday night during the annual Texas Motorsports Hall of Fame induction ceremony at The Speedway Club, noting that he hit “everything but the fence” during the day’s lone practice session around the 1.5-mile quadoval. Stewart admittedly was puzzled, as his Stewart-Haas Racing team had tire-tested for Goodyear earlier this spring.
Stewart made a major move toward his third championship on Nov. 6 when he won the AAA Texas 500, Race No. 8 of the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup. Stewart’s win by 1.092-seconds over Carl Edwards was one of five “Smoke” scored during NASCAR’s postseason. The outcome basically set the stage for Stewart’s showdown with Ford Racing star Edwards, of Roush-Fenway Racing, for the 2011 championship.
Eddie Gossage, TMS’ president, fanned the flames of that rivalry by staging a boxing-style promotion in the infield media center complete with lockers featuring robes, boxing gloves, headgear and mouthpieces. Stewart donned the robe during his Victory Lane celebration and hammed-it-up with a clenched-fist pose. Neither Stewart nor Edwards finished worse than third during the season’s final three races and ended up tied in points at Homestead-Miami Speedway after 36 events. Stewart won via the most-wins tiebreaker.
A model of inconsistency
Never mind the fact that Stewart already has amassed 2 victories in just seven races, look at the finishes that were not victories. Stewart started off the year with a 16th place finish at Daytona. The next week at Phoenix he slips even further grabbing a 22nd place finish. However, the following week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway Tony Stewart dominates the field and pulls off his victory of the season.
The next week at Bristol, Stewart was never in the hunt for the victory. The best that Stewart could muster was a 14th place finish at The Colosseum of Crash! The following week at “The Hotel California”, Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, “Smoke” garnered his second win of the short season. The following week at “The Paper Clip”, Martinsville, the best that Stewart could do was a lousy 24th place.
Last night at Texas, after going to back up car because he stuck his primary car in the wall during practice, the 2011 Sprint Cup champ was relegated to a back marker. As the checkered flag fell on the field, “Smoke” got smoked. Stewart was 2 laps down holding his own in 24th place!
If Tony Stewart hopes to make a run at the Sprint Cup championship, thus making him a four-time champ, as well as a back-to-back champ, his team must smooth out all those hills and valleys. The SHR #14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevy needs to start reeling off those top 5’s and top 10’s each and every week!
Consistency is the way that championships are created!
What are your views on Stewart’s lack of consistent finishes?
TIL NEXT TIME,L I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!