Points: 87 points, 37th in the standings and 59 points from 30th position
Quote Of The Race: “You still mad at me bud?” — Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz after the conclusion of the race- addressing driver Tony Stewart’s radio silence during the later half of the race. (By the way- for those curious- Tony’s response was that he wasn’t mad at his crew chief but frustrated at the situation with the vibration/slowdown of the car during the later half of the race).
If I could give a random name to the race run by Tony Stewart and crew this past Saturday at Kansas I would call it “The Lemonade Race.” No I wasn’t drinking lemonade on Saturday night. I call it that because the race was a good example of taking the lemons dealt to you and turning them into lemonade.
Qualifying went fairly well and Tony qualified it 16th. Could have been better, but it could have been a whole lot worse in my eyes so I will gladly take the 16th starting position. When the green flag flew on Saturday’s night race in Kansas Tony Stewart first advanced quickly on the start but then fell back several positions as the car was handling tight in the first third. The team worked hard to make adjustments for Tony and he was able to climb in position up to 14th. This is not where the team made lemonade however.
On about lap 150 or so Tony started falling back and reported that he felt a vibration and mentioned that he seemed to lose speed. He quickly fell. Crew chief Mike Bugarewicz called his driver into pit road on lap 157 hoping that slapping four fresh tires on the #14 Mobil 1 Chevy would alleviate the vibration. However that was not the case, as Tony soon reported back that indeed the vibration was still there and the car still seemed to lack the speed it had earlier in the race. During the next caution the team brought Tony back into the pits, slapped another set of tires on the car and then left the car jacked up on the left side so that the crew could crawl under the car and give it a good once over to see if they could find what was causing the vibration Tony felt. Unfortunately the race handed the team a lemon when Mike came back on the radio and told his driver that the crew did not see anything amiss under the car. Tony took the car back out on the track and after the green flag waved soon reported that the vibration was still there. The team asked Tony during the next caution to scroll through his electronic display and read them any error codes he saw- which he did and after some research the crew chief told him that those codes weren’t anything abnormal and did not give them a clue as to what was causing the vibration and power issue. They were one of the few teams to come in during this pit stop. The driver got a little frustrated and snippy with his crew chief and the crew chief gave it right back to him- telling him they were doing what they could but they didn’t know what was causing the vibration. Anyone listening to the radio soon heard radio silence from the driver who was doing his best with the lemons the race had dealt him. Most Tony fans know that radio silence usually means he’s unhappy and not in the mood to chat.
For the rest of the radio chatter was between the spotter and the crew chief. While Tony struggled around the track usually in positions 20-22nd. And here is where our lemons turned into lemonade. With 75 laps to go drivers began to cycle through regular green flag pit stops. However because Tony had been one of just a few cars to pit on the last pit stop his crew chief made the call to stay out – since he had approximately twenty laps of gas more than the other cars. Eventually after all the cars had gone through the pit stop cycle this put Tony in the lead because he hadn’t pitted yet. Hey it was a bonus point for leading and when you are just hoping your driver gets into the top 30 so that if he gets a win he can make the chase every point counts and I tweeted something to that regard when Tony took the lead. The team was hoping for a caution that would allow them to pit without losing too much track position. Unfortunately 12 laps later Kyle Busch was about to get around Tony for the lead and Mike called our driver down pit road on lap 234. And on lap 235, just after Tony had begun blending onto the track from pit road a caution came out when Ricky Stenhouse Jr hit the wall.
This was much to Martin Truex Jr.’s chagrin because when the caution came out Tony had just moved into lucky dog position meaning Martin was no longer the first car a lap down and did not get the free pass. Martin kindly stated on his radio that NASCAR obviously threw that caution for Tony, um clearly not Martin- clearly it was because of Ricky Stenhouse hitting the wall- if you were paying attention you and your spotter might have noticed that. Tony restarted on the lead lap in 19th place. Not soon after a multi-car incident on track took out several drivers and Tony was able to restart 15th. But since he had fresher tires than a lot of the field (he had come in to change tires because he ran over debris) and because he’s Tony Stewart, he was able to wheel the car up three more positions in the remaining laps and finished a hard fought lemonade finish of 12th. Will gladly drink that lemonade finish because it brought Tony up another position in the points standings. He is now 37th with 87 points and is only 56 points out of the top 30.
Race winner was Kyle Busch. All four Stewart-Haas Racing entries finished in the top 20: Kevin Harvick finished 2nd, Kurt Busch finished 3rd, Tony finished 12th, and Danica finished 20th.
Next week we are visiting Miles and racing at the Monster Mile of Dover.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart pictures
Vote now to help Tony Stewart be voted 2016 All Star Giver and Humanitarian of the year. Vote Daily: https://givkwik.com/campaigns/asu-2016/TonyStewart #AllStarGiv_Stewart
You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.