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.
Tony Stewart has the best average running position and finish in the past nine years of the Sprint Unlimited. His average position is 6.8, but even then he manages to surge at the end to finish slightly worse than fifth.
Tony Stewart, already the owner of the beloved Eldora Speedway and a World of Outlaws team that features series champion Donny Schatz and legend Steve Kinser, has acquired the All-Star Circuit of Champions from its former owner, Guy Webb.
For the first time in his 16-year career as a fulltime NASCAR driver, Tony Stewart failed to win a race during a season. He finished 43rd at Homestead.
Tony Stewart has one more shot to extend his winning streak to 16 consecutive seasons, but he will have his work cut out for him after starting 28th.