When the green flag drops on Sunday for the STP Gas Booster 500, fan favorite Tony Stewart will be starting 26th after struggling to find speed all weekend. This, although rare for his career, has been an all too common trend for Smoke this season. The speed has simply not been there for any of the Stewart-Haas Racing cars this season after adding the full time third car of Danica Patrick.
The competitive level of NASCAR has never been closer, with teams bridging the gap between top twenty and victory lane regularly; see Paul Menard, Aric Almirola, and even Kurt Busch. For 2013 the new car has brought parody, with certain teams falling off the proverbial cliff of competitiveness due to the inability to create an effective setup for the generation six vehicle.
Bad luck coupled with a general lack of dominance has left Tony Stewart in a strange position with nearly one fourth of the regular season completed after today’s race at Martinsville Speedway. The window on some teams is already closing, as the points begin to spread apart.
Stewart finds himself 91 points back already, after finding contact in Fontana and wrecking early at Bristol Motor Speedway. He also finds himself marred 22nd in points, with chances of a wild card unlikely, and many veteran drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer sitting outside of the playoff hunt.
Things change quickly in NASCAR, any fan will be able to tell you that. But Stewart has struggled with consistency not only this year, but at Martinsville in general. Smoke has a race victory under his belt recently, as does his teammate Ryan Newman, but in his past six races at the paperclip, Stewart has finished outside the top 24 twice as many times as he has ended up in the top ten.
Tony Stewart has always been one to create his own destiny. Stubborn and hard-working, Tony Stewart needs to get it in gear before his chase hopes closes. Mid-pack and determined, every turn, every lap, and every race from here on out will be absolutely critical for Tony Stewart as he attempts to capture his fourth Sprint Cup Championship at seasons end.
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