Tony Stewart posted the fastest single lap in the first session of time trials, but he slipped to fourth in the second round and he will start on the outside of row two for the Crown Royal Jeff Kyle 400 at the Brickyard at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. That is his best qualification effort so far in a season filled with disappointments.
Tony Stewart spun off of turn two at about the 35 minute mark and hit the inside wall. He will be forced to roll out a backup car.
Tony Stewart swept the top-five in 2012 at Pocono Raceway and the top-10 the following season, but last year he finished outside that mark in both races, which leaves fantasy owners questioning if the 2014 results were an anomaly or a change in direction.
Tony Stewart has finished 34th or worse in his last five restrictor-plate, superspeedway races. Three of these ended behind the wall with crash damage.
Tony Stewart earned his first top-10 of the season and only his second top-15 by surviving the Food City 500 and finishing sixth.
Tony Stewart slapped the wall early in the second practice session for the Food City 500 Supporting Steve Byrnes and Stand Up to Cancer. The damage was probably not severe enough to give up his 21st-place qualification effort.
Tony Stewart failed to finish on the lead lap in his first four attempts of 2015, but he is beginning to show signs of improvement. He went the complete distance at both Auto Club and Martinsville in his latest two starts.
A sixth-place qualification effort on Friday could be the signal of a reversal of fortune for Tony Stewart. Last fall he finished fourth on this track after qualifying fourth.
Tony Stewart qualified 20th for the Auto Club 400, which was the first time in five years at this track that he failed to crack the top 10.
A 17th-place qualification effort might not sound like much this week, but it is the best starting position for Tony Stewart since he qualified sixth in the 2013 spring Subway Fresh Fit 500. He missed the fall race that year and qualified in the 20s in both 2014 races.
Tony Stewart won the 2012 Kobalt Tools 400, but he failed to crack the top 10 in his next two starts. He finished 33rd last year after losing four laps to the leader.
When Tony Stewart failed to clear inspection Friday afternoon, it forced him to take a position based on owner points. He will roll off the grid 39th, which is the worst he has ever started at Atlanta.
Tony Stewart made contact with the wall in Thursday night’s Duel in Daytona before finishing fourth. The team stayed at the track until midnight and returned at 7:00 am on Friday to massage the primary car back into shape.
It took a while for Tony Stewart to find his rhythm after a tragic sprint car accident last August. He scored only one top-10 and a handful of top-15s in the final 12 races of the 2014 season.