FORT WORTH, Texas (March 27, 2012) – Tony Stewart has shown no signs of slowing down following last year’s epic championship performance that saw him win his third career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Stewart, who earned his second victory of the young season Sunday in a rain-shortened race at Auto Club Speedway, has won seven of the last 15 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races and with the Samsung Mobile 500 at Texas Motor Speedway just three weeks away – a track where Stewart was victorious last fall – continuing the momentum seems strong.
For Stewart, last year’s slow start taught him that getting off to a fast start to the season is essential. With just three top-five finishes in the first 26 races of 2011, Stewart understands that starting off the season patiently isn’t always a guarantee for future success.
“I’ve always thought that, but you look at how our first 26 weeks went last year I never would have predicted we were going to struggle that bad for the first 26 weeks of the year,” Stewart said. “You look at it from the standpoint you learn to not take anything for granted. With the competition getting better and better, you don’t have the luxury of taking it easy. You’ve got to be on your game for 26 weeks just to get yourself in position to race for the championship now.”
Stewart is excited about returning to Texas Motor Speedway, where he dominated during the AAA Texas 500 in November. He led 173 of 334 laps en route to a 1.092-second margin of victory over runner-up Carl Edwards. It was second career victory at Texas Motor Speedway – the other came in the 2006 fall race – and 11th top-10 finish in 20 starts. He ranks fourth all time at Texas Motor Speedway with an average finishing position of 12.55.
“It’s nice to go back to some of these tracks knowing we ran well at them,” Stewart said. “With this Chase format, you have 26 weeks just to get yourself in there so you can’t take it easy at the beginning of the year and think that you are going to waltz right into a spot in the Chase. You’ve got to get after it right away.”
For Stewart, who has been a relatively slow starter throughout his career, winning two of the first five races of the season is a pleasant surprise. It marks the fewest races Stewart has needed to earn his second victory of the season in his 14-year career.
Stewart isn’t taking the credit for his early-season success. The role of new crew chief Steve Addington and the team’s approach this offseason has played a pivotal role in the team’s success.
“It’s easy for teams, when they have success, to kind of slow down a little bit, take a breath and feel like they’re exactly where they need to be,” Stewart said. “That’s probably the one thing I was most excited about through this winter was watching our guys. Listening to their comments about how excited they were to have the success we had, but how they were looking forward to next year and trying to be able to duplicate that.”
Stewart will look to earn consecutive victories at Texas Motor Speedway during the April 14th Samsung Mobile 500. Tickets are available by contacting the Texas Motor Speedway ticket office at (817) 215-8500 or by visiting www.texasmotorspeedway.com.