To start the season, the Twitter hashtag celebrating Tony Stewart’s return to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series competition was #StandWithSmoke.
And soon, fans may be standing with him in Victory Lane.
After scraping off some rust in the first three races of the season – he finished 35th, 16th and 33rd – Stewart blistered through the field at the end of Sunday’s race at Bristol to finish fourth.
Now, after missing 15 races last year because of a broken leg, we may see Stewart win a race – maybe as soon as Sunday at Auto Club Speedway.
Stewart has won two of the last three races at Auto Club Speedway. Over the last six ACS races, he finished in the top 10 four times.
The three-time series champion’s new found momentum – and positivity – has a lot to do with the growing pains of life with a new crew chief, in this case, Chad Johnston.
Johnston had called the shots for Martin Truex Jr. for the past three seasons. Now, a chemistry is building with his new driver.
“It’s something I needed, for sure,” Stewart said after the Bristol race. “Obviously for Chad and I to work together for the first time for four or five races into the season and be able to get a top-five at Bristol, that is pretty big for us. We had a really good car, very balanced and very drivable. Chad just kept working on it all day and making it better for us.”