Doing the improbable is nothing new for Tony Stewart. Case in point: winning his third NASCAR Sprint Cup title in 2011 after stating he didn’t even belong in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup™.
Stewart’s latest feat is disproving a theory that the current points system works against recovery from an early season filled with misfortune. It took Stewart just three races to erase that misconception.
Ranked 21st in the standings after Darlington – and without Chase eligibility – Stewart rocketed back into contention with a victory, two top fives and three top 10s. He currently holds a Chase Wild Card berth based upon his Dover win.
But most importantly, Stewart is only 17 points out of the Chase-qualifying top 10 – a net gain of 45 markers in less than a month.
Granted, he’s had help. Four competitors Stewart leap-frogged – Aric Almirola, Jamie McMurray, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jeff Burton – failed to score a top-10 finish during the three-race span.
But Stewart also bypassed Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr. and Ryan Newman, drivers posting a combined three top fives and eight top 10s.
Stewart’s led two of the past three races. He led just once in the season’s first 11 events.
Stewart’s only Michigan victory came in 2000, the driver’s second season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Stewart-Haas Racing has yet to win at the track. SHR’s third driver, Danica Patrick, will make her first Michigan start in the series.