Stewart Shoots For Richmond Success

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Richmond International Raceway has been a track where Tony Stewart has excelled throughout his racing career and the two-time Sprint Cup Series champion hopes to add to that record in Saturday night's Crown Royal Presents the Heath Calhoun 400.

Stewart has notched three Sprint Cup wins and two Camping World Truck Series victories at the .75-mile track and he says it's no secret that he enjoys running at Richmond.

“It is my favorite track," he said. "It’s not one of them, it’s the favorite track of mine on the circuit. I’ve just always thought it’s the perfect-sized track for a Cup race. The other short tracks we run – Bristol and Martinsville – they’re cool in their own right, but there’s a lot of congestion at those two tracks.

"But at Richmond, it just seems like that extra quarter-mile, and that three-quarter-mile shape, and how wide the groove gets there, allows for good racing. It seems like we have to race ourselves and race the racetrack versus racing each other a lot of times."

Stewart took a liking to Richmond on the strength of his previous short track racing experience in open wheel racing but like other tracks on the schedule there was a learning process.

“It just reminds me of some of the shorter tracks that I’ve run," Stewart said. "It has kind of the same feel that three-quarter-mile tracks did with some of the other cars I’ve run with. It was like Phoenix the first time I went there. I hadn’t been to a 1-mile oval but once in my life, but when I got onto Phoenix, I adjusted and adapted to it really quickly."

Stewart enters this weekend's race fourteenth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings and a good run Saturday night will help him climb up the ladder into Chase territory. But despite his past success at Richmond, Stewart understands the track will as always present a challenge.

“You want to make sure your car is adjustable," Stewart said. "We start the race at the end of the day, when it’s usually pretty hot but, as night comes, the track cools down and it changes quite a bit. Old pavement, new pavement – the same theory applies, and that’s not something you see at most of the races we go to. It’s pretty much isolated to just the night races. You’ve got to have adjustability because you know for a fact that the track isn’t going to stay the same all night long.”

Running well Saturday night will have the added benefit of helping teams when the series returns to Richmond in September for the final race of the regular season that sets the Chase field. Crew chief Chad Knaus understands the need to learn things this weekend that will be helpful when September rolls around.

"Absolutely. We’re taking some of the lessons we’ve learned even at some of the intermediate tracks," Grubb said of the team's approach. "At Richmond, we’ve got two good, long practices and we’ll be able to go and do some major changes. We’ve got some stuff we’re planning to try that we hope works out and carries us to the end of the year, when we come back to Richmond to secure a spot in the Chase.”

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