Smoke's Apparent Slump
by Jonathan Fjeld (Twitter @jfjeldNASCAR)
Tony Stewart is a driver who's had his ups & downs in his career. This year is more than likely considered a down year in his career. Through the first 23 races this year, Smoke is 10th in points and has 9 top 10s, 2 top 5s, but 0 wins. That's down from last year at this time when he was 4th in points and had 13 top 10s, 6 top 5s, and 0 wins. But if you compare this year to 2003, you may find something pretty interesting:
Stewart at this time in 2003 had 10 top 10s, 6 top 5s, and 1 win. Even though Stewart had more top 10s & top 5s at this time, 8 years ago, he was lower in points. Only 1 position lower in 11th. He was there after a string of bad finishes from California in May to the Coca Cola 600 with finishes of 41st, 41st, & 40th. During that time he fell from 11th to 20th. He earned a top 5 finish the next week and jumped to 16th.
It proves a point: Stewart knows how to get out of a slump.
Stewart claims he doesn't deserve to be in the Chase but if he were to look back to late 2003, he might think again:
Tony Stewart, in the final 10 races of 03, scored only 2 finishes outside the top 10. During that time, he had consistency similar to what the 48 team of Jimmie Johnson has pulled off in the past 5 seasons. If Stewart can do that this year and get a win before the Chase, he might just be back in the championship hunt. Plus, we probably won't hear quotes outta Smoke like this, "We just don't deserve to be in this Chase. We're just wasting another Chase spot."
This Chase is sure to be interesting to watch. With so many contenders possibly in the Race for the Cup, it's hard to write about them all. Tony Stewart's situation was just one that stuck right out and made me think about what was going on at the 14 "camp".
So we'll see how the 14 does for the next 13 races and I'll probably get back to you readers when the season's done!