Dog Days of Summer: Tony Stewart hopes to repeat last summer's success DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2006) -- For some drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, a trip to a road course creates some uncertainty. For Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot...
Dog Days of Summer: Tony Stewart hopes to repeat last summer's success
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (June 20, 2006) -- For some drivers in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series, a trip to a road course creates some uncertainty. For Tony Stewart (No. 20 Home Depot Chevrolet), visits to Infineon Raceway and Watkins Glen International are just two more opportunities to win races.
"We go to a road course just like we do any track," Stewart said. "We go there to win. I take it just as seriously as I do any of the other races. I think we, as an organization, take a lot of pride in our track record on the road courses."
And that track record is one of the most impressive among NASCAR NEXTEL Cup drivers. Stewart has won three consecutive road course races and has five wins in 14 attempts. He is second to Jeff Gordon (No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet) (eight) in road course wins among active drivers.
In last year's win at Infineon Raceway, a tricky 1.99-mile road course, Stewart dominated the new Loop Data statistics. He finished with a Driver Rating of 142.7 (out of a possible 150), more than 20 points higher than his nearest competitor. He also led the field in important categories such as Average Running Position (2.8), Fastest Early in a Run (92.167 mph) and Fastest Late in a Run (91.952 mph).
But more important was what Stewart accomplished after his triumph at Infineon. He went on to win four of the next six races, and rode his hot streak to his second NASCAR NEXTEL Cup title.
"I've had zones where I've finished in the top three when I was in Midgets and Sprint Cars where I could go week-in and week-out and not fall out of the top three," Stewart said. "But to win five out of seven and be in the top five for the rest of the season was a pretty good record. I know Zippy (Greg Zipadelli, crew chief) was proud of it. I was extremely proud of it."
Even more impressive was the fact that the wins came at a diverse collection of tracks.
"For us to win at Daytona, Indy, Sonoma, Watkins Glen and Loudon -- to win on all those different disciplines really showed how diverse our program was," Stewart said. "It's a tribute to Zippy and the guys and the jobs they do."
Stewart, who has won at least two races in each of his seven seasons in NASCAR NEXTEL Cup, currently has one win in 2006. He is sixth in the point standings and is in position to make the Chase for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup for the third consecutive season.
Another win at Infineon would help solidify Stewart's place in the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series Top 10. But more important to him, it would keep his road course streak alive.
"I know it's just another race out there, but with the fact we've won three in a row, that's a string we're pretty proud of and we'd like to keep going, obviously," Stewart said.