Tony Qualified: 27th
Tony Finished: 11th!!!
Points: 563 (25th in points standings)
So, qualifying this week wasn’t the best. Tony Stewart didn’t make it past the first round, thus ended up starting the race at New Hampshire 27th, sadly making him the lowest qualifier among the four Stewart-Haas drivers. After I found out how qualifying went, I told myself Tony doesn’t usually qualify well. I blamed the fact of it on the fact that the teams were running the original 2015 aero package. All that pep talking to myself (just to clarify I wasn’t really talking to myself- this was all internal in my head) didn’t really lift my hopes up for the race. I should learn not to trust myself when it comes to these things- because I would say that this ended up being the best race that they have had in awhile.
If you had told me while I was settling in with my notepad, my cell phone and my remote on Sunday that Tony would be the highest finisher of the Stewart-Haas drivers I would have first thought- oh no- Kurt and Kevin had bad days too and they are in the chase! And while unfortunately that would be true- I can honestly say that I think Tony had a great race independent of the bad gas mileage luck that Harvick, Busch and others would suffer at the end of the Sylvania 300.
Even if no one had run out of gas, Tony would have likely finished 14 or 15th. That’s right- a top 15- which would have been a good finish when you qualify 27th. It’s an especially awesome finish when after working your way up to 15th you get banged up on the track by drivers treating lap 59 like lap 299 and squeeze you that you end up with a couple of dented fenders and a tired rub that later results in a flat tire. Luckily because Tony is skilled he was able to keep the car off the wall and nurse it back into the pits after the caution had waved. It took the crew a couple of pit stops to fix the damage mostly and by some grace the team was able to not only keep him from going a lap down but make the car driveable for Stewart. And even though after that incident they ended up restarting 38th- the last car on the lead lap at the time- neither driver nor crew gave up. That is MY team. That is MY driver.
Pit calls and stops were spot on during the race. Tony patiently worked his way through traffic through out the race, never seeming to give up. Chad and crew spent another pitstop or two working on the damage to the splitter when there was a yellow flag pit stop and then they were on running the race like the damage and flat never happened. Then it was in Tony’s hands and he drove that Code 3 Associates car through the field. And while I am sure that Tony would rather that Kevin and Kurt didn’t run out of gas in the closing laps- the race that the 14 team ran was hard fought and they should be extremely proud of that 11th place finish.
Race winner was Matt Kenseth- thus solidifying his place with teammate Denny Hamlin in the next round of the chase. Kurt Busch is currently in 7th place in the Chase standings, and Kevin Harvick is currently 15th in the points standings out of 16 drivers.
*As I tweeted on Sunday evening – if Kyle Busch doesn’t win Dover my chase grid is busted. Looks like my curse might be striking again.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures:
Do you #StandWithSmoke? Showing him is as easy as 1. Donate at least $1.00 (but seriously if you can- do at least $10- because then your donation will get doubled by an anonymous donor) to the Tony Stewart Foundation at StandWithSmoke.Com 2. Download the sign (the link will be in your donation receipt) 3. Take a photo (or a short video) with your sign and either post it to the Tony Stewart Foundation facebook page or Tweet it using #StandWithSmoke and @14TSF. Let’s all show Tony Stewart we #StandWithSmoke.
#StandWithSmoke #KeepDiggingTony #Fan14Life
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