Back In It To Win It
September 23, 2007 | 11:17 A.M. EST
Event though he missed the playoff field last season, Stewart's philosophy for winning a title hasn't changed from his previous Chase championship campaign in 2005.
"My approach to the Chase is the same way it’s been any other time I’ve been in a point race – you go out there, you lead laps, you win races and the points take care of itself," Stewart said of his plan. "I know that sounds like a simple formula, but the reason we got to this point is by following that theory."
"Every week we go out and we try to lead laps and we try to win races. That’s what got us here. There’s no reason to change that. Now is not the time to reinvent the wheel."
Stewart comes into Sunday's Dodge Dealers 400 at Dover International Speedway third in the championship race, after posting a third in the Chase opener in New Hampshire last week.
One thing Stewart and the rest of the title contenders have to deal with is the other 31 drivers on the track, not in the title race but all trying to do well in each particular event.
“For the 12 that are competing, we’re still racing against 31 other guys just like we’ve been since the beginning of the year," he said. "Probably for the first three or four weeks, I don’t think we’ll be too conscious of where we are on the race track. It’s still going to be business as usual."
"But as we get closer to the end of the season – probably with two or three races to go – you’re going to be singling out guys a little bit more and paying closer attention to where they are on the race track, what position they’re in, and how many laps they’ve led."
Stewart has had success at the "Monster Mile" during his career. The nine-year Nextel Cup veteran has scored two wins and nine top-five finishes while leading over 1,000 laps in his 17 previous races at Dover.
But things haven't gone as well in recent visits to the one-mile concrete oval, a trend Stewart looks to reverse on Sunday.
"Dover is a track that’s constantly changing," he said. "But it’s one of those places where you really can’t change your driving style. You still have to do the same things you always do. It’s just a matter of finding the package that’s right for that race track."