Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Stewart in danger of a winless season

As I was watching the race at Watkins Glen on Sunday, I realized how important of a race it was for Tony Stewart. Not to solidify his standing in the points, but simply to win. After 22 races into the season, the two-time Sprint Cup Champ has yet finish first. Of course, this is nothing new; Stewart has gone this far before without a win in1999 and 2008, his first and last years at Joe Gibbs Racing. Still, the fact remains that Stewart is now in danger of having his first winless season in his twelve year Cup career. And should he not win, it would end the longest active streak with most consecutive winning seasons.

Stewart is on his typical summer hot streak, but usually he wins a race or two during it. While Smoke has been consistent, he hasn’t been much of a threat. His 119 laps lead for the season is on a pace to be a career low. And back to Watkins Glen, a track that has become Stewart’s own personal playground, he was a non-factor and finished 7th. A good points day, but the fact that he wasn’t even contending at his best track is a troubling sign. Unless they get lucky with some fuel strategy, I see a team that won’t be winning a race anytime soon.

While I think it is time to panic in the 14 camp, Stewart doesn’t seemed bothered.

"This is my 30th year in racing,” he said. “You take one weekend at a time and you don't think about the numbers as to how long it's been since the last time you've won. You just go with the same attitude you do every weekend, and that's to try and win the race. You go through the steps of trying to put yourself in that position to be there at the end of the day. You focus on what you need to do to win the race you're in."

Earlier in the year, I had my doubts about Tony even making the Chase. Going a career worst six straight finishes outside the top 15 will endanger anyone’s Chase chances. But he has responded quite well since then, with nine top 10’s in the past eleven races. With fourteen races left, there are still plenty of opportunities for a win. But after what I saw at Watkins Glen, I just don’t see a win for Stewart in 2010.

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