Non-profit group helps with animal rescue.
As Tony Stewart carries the colors of Code 3 Associates this weekend at Pocono (Pa.) Raceway and champions the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization’s membership drive, he is driving toward membership in the 2014 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.
Becoming a member of Code 3 Associates via its Website, www.Code3Associates.org, is a free and easy way to rally and organize people in support of Code 3 Associates’ mission, which is animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas.
“We’re honored to have Code 3 Associates as a partner with Stewart-Haas Racing," Stewart said. "It’s nice to know there’s an organization out there that takes care of a sometimes overlooked but very important family member – your pet. Taking care of animals has always been important to me, and when we started our foundation, we made animal welfare a priority. To be able to promote the work of Code 3 Associates so that it can do even more work for people and their pets is very satisfying.”
Becoming a member of the 16-driver Chase field, which ultimately will decide the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship, is markedly harder, but it does have a simple premise: win and you’re in.
Stewart needs a win
If you’re among the top-30 in Sprint Cup points, a win during the 26-race regular season gets you into the 10-race Chase. Currently, there are 11 different race winners this season. Six races remain to lock up a spot. That leaves five spots still available. If no new winners emerge, those remaining positions will be filled by those non-winners highest in points which, at this stage, would be Matt Kenseth (fourth), Ryan Newman (seventh), Clint Bowyer (10th), Kyle Larson (13th) and Austin Dillon (14th).
A new race winner outside the top-14 in points would automatically jettison a non-winner, earning membership in the Chase.
Currently 19th in points and winless this season, Stewart knows the value of a win in the next six races. But he has always lived by his one-race-at-a-time mantra, and with the GoBowling.com 400 on Sunday next up for Stewart and the rest of his Sprint Cup counterparts, Stewart sees Pocono as his next best opportunity to become a Chase member.
When the Sprint Cup Series last visited Pocono in June, Stewart was poised to knock down that sought after win. He seemed to have the car to beat, climbing from his 12th-place starting spot to lead four times for 24 laps. But a pit road speeding penalty proved too costly to overcome, although Stewart was able to rally and finish 13th.
Six races have passed since that disappointment, and Stewart returns to Pocono with the same car – Chassis No. 14-707 – that performed so well on the 2.5-mile triangle in June. Another strong run throughout all 160 laps around the aptly-named “Tricky Triangle” would aid in Stewart collecting his ninth Chase berth since the inception of the Chase in 2004.
Pocono could punch his ticket
A win, however, would punch Stewart’s ticket to the Chase, and winning at Pocono is something Stewart has done twice already. A 48-time race winner in Sprint Cup, Stewart earned career win No. 16 at Pocono in June 2003 and career win No. 34 in June 2009. Augmenting those victories are two poles, eight top-threes, 12 top-fives, 22 top-10s and a total of 183 laps led in 31 career Sprint Cup starts at Pocono.
Those consistent results have been mirrored by Stewart’s reliability on the track, as he has completed 5,678 of the 5,827 laps available to him for a lap completion rate of 97.4 percent. Only twice has Stewart failed to finish a race at Pocono. And since the inception of Stewart-Haas Racing in 2009, Stewart has finished outside the top-15 only once (June 2011), giving him an average finish of 11th.
Membership has its privileges. It’s true for Code 3 Associates and it’s true for the Chase. With a No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS primed to pick up where it last left off at Pocono, Stewart’s membership drive is in overdrive in the GoBowling.com 400.