Stewart loves Virginia

Tony Stewart is happy to be back in Richmond. Who can blame him? The defending series champion is in danger of the worst finish of his Winston Cup career but returns to Virginia as the only driver to win more than one race at Richmond ...

Tony Stewart is happy to be back in Richmond. Who can blame him?

The defending series champion is in danger of the worst finish of his Winston Cup career but returns to Virginia as the only driver to win more than one race at Richmond International Raceway in the past five years. He's looking to drive his #20 Home Depot Chevy back to victory lane in the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 on Saturday (7:30 p.m. ET on TNT).

"I like this place," says Stewart, who earned his first Winston Cup win at Richmond in 1999. "It's a place that's pretty special to me."

Stewart added Richmond wins to his resume in the spring races in 2001 and 2002 but wrecked and finished a disappointing 41st in May. Stewart likes the multiple racing lines at the 50-year-old ¾ mile oval.

"I'm not sure I have any secrets or anything," Stewart admits. "It's just a fun place. Being able to run different lines around the track and finding different levels of grip is something that's always made racing at Richmond fun."

Stewart is currently 10th in the Winston Cup standings and has posted just one top-10 finish -- a third place run in Michigan - in the past seven races. It's the lowest he's been in the standings at this point of the season during his five-year career.

The 32-year-old Indiana native won the Winston Cup rookie of the year title after winning three races in 1999. He was the Indy Racing League champion in 1997 and won national sprint car and kart titles.

"We're obviously working hard to get the best points finish we can," says Stewart, who recently signed a contract extension that will keep him with Joe Gibbs Racing through the 2009 season. "I feel like our on-track performance is better than it's ever been, perhaps in my whole career in Winston Cup."

Stewart has had a busy week. After finishing 12th and on the lead lap at Darlington on Sunday, the driver of the #20 Home Depot Chevy climbed into an ARCA car on Labor Day and dominated the field on the dirt track at DuQuoin, Illinois for his first ARCA series win.

Stewart enjoyed a couple of days off before traveling to Richmond where he won the Craftsman Truck series race on Thursday -- his second win in three career truck starts.

Stewart has won at least three races in each of his is four Winston Cup seasons and is looking forward to racking up some victories in the final 10 races of the season.

"I've told our engine department, my crew chief and everyone on our team that I feel like everywhere we go, every week that we're a contender to win. It's just a matter of putting all of the pieces together."

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About this article
Series NASCAR Cup
Drivers Tony Stewart
Teams Joe Gibbs Racing