Ol’ Smoke Tony Stewart, a legendary figure in the NASCAR pantheon, has started his season off nowhere near as well as he may have hoped. Since his incredible Chase run in the 2011 season, Stewart has been trying to get back on track. He certainly suffered from a championship hangover as he failed to come close to defending his title in the 2012, finishing in ninth for the season.
The start of this year has been far worse for Smoke than he could have imagined as the high point of this first five-race stretch was a finish of eighth place at the Subway Fresh-Fit 500 in Phoenix, Arizona. Beyond that, he has had disappointing race after disappointing race.
At the Daytona 500, Stewart once again failed to win that coveted trophy he has strove for his entire NASCAR career. After getting caught up in a wreck that also immobilized another big contender Kevin Harvick, Stewart was only able to limp back out on the track to finish with a 41st place finish.
Is this a case of an owner-driver not being able to compete with the big shops like Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing, or is there something else holding Stewart and the Stewart-Haas Racing team back? Only time will tell whether he can get back to championship form.
What certainly comes to mind is NASCAR legend Alan Kulwicki, who passed away twenty years ago, and how he was the last owner-driver to win a championship for himself. If Tony is going to get back on his game, he needs to calm down on berating the younger guys in NASCAR, especially Joey Logano, for pulling moves that he absolutely would pull and has pulled before.
The only way that Stewart can pull himself out of this slump is with results and wins.