Season Review: Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart won two races in 2010. (Photo: Getty Images)

Tony Stewart 2010 Race-by-Race | 2010 Season Loop Data eBook

Year two for Stewart-Haas Racing proved to be more difficult for owner-driver Tony Stewart, who finished the 2010 campaign short of what was accomplished in his freshman season at SHR.

Stewart won a pair of races and made the Chase, but his overall effort wasn’t as good as the bar that was set so high the previous year.

The final stats show Stewart with two wins, nine top fives and 17 top-10 finishes and an average finish of 13.9 over the 36-race season.

Stewart scored victories at Atlanta Motor Speedway in the Labor Day weekend race and during the Chase in the visit to Auto Club Speedway, a win that at the time propelled him to fourth in the Chase standings.

But they were the highlights of a season that for Stewart had more downs than ups.

The beginning of the season was especially frustrating for Stewart and crew chief Darian Grubb as they searched for the missing ingredient that was keeping the No. 14 Chevrolet from competing for victories.

“Darian and I are both confused what’s going on and why it’s going on,” Stewart said in May. “The good thing is the morale of our team is really high still.

“Darian and I are side-by-side on it and our attitude with each other is great, so that’s a big positive in trying to get it all sorted out and figured out – we’re making sure we’re not building barriers between ourselves.”

The chemistry between Stewart and Grubb remained intact as the team struggled to find its way out of the doldrum, and by mid-summer the No. 14 Impala was running much better. That performance came to a crescendo when Stewart found victory lane at Atlanta.

“It’s been a long time since we’ve been in victory lane” said Stewart, who erased a 31-race winless streak with the victory. “… We had an awesome race-car tonight. It was balanced at the start of the race. I knew the first run when we were a little bit off and the leaders weren’t getting away from us, I thought, ‘We’ve probably got a shot at this thing tonight, at least a shot at a solid top-five and maybe a top-three.’”

Stewart came close to winning again two weeks later in the Chase opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. But a fuel mileage gamble backfired and although he took the white flag as the leader, Stewart ran out of gas and was handed a 24th-place finish.

“I’m not happy, that’s for sure, but we went down swinging,” Stewart said. “It’s hard to lose one that way but at the same time it was fun racing Clint like that. He was definitely the fastest car. … It’s a tough way to start the Chase but I’m proud of my guys.”

Stewart rebounded from that disappointment a few weeks later when he went to victory lane for the first time in his career at the two-mile Auto Club Speedway.

“I’ll be honest, when I woke up this morning, I thought if we had a top-10 day, that was going to be good, and if we ran in the top five today that was going to be an outstanding day,” Stewart said.

“It just shows how hard this guy works. Some of the crew guys and I, we were out, we went to a sprint car race last night and went to a fair and rode rides last night, and I can tell where Darian was. He didn’t go very far from his computer and from the engineers. I guarantee they were busy last night.”

However, Stewart’s momentum in the Chase was lost after his Fontana triumph and he faded down the stretch to finish seventh in the final standings.

Stewart will try for better things in 2011 as he again teams up with Ryan Newman for year three at Stewart-Haas Racing with new sponsor Mobil 1’s colors flying on the familiar No. 14.

Previous Reviews

12th-Place Finisher: Jeff Burton

11th-Place Finisher: Kurt Busch

10th-Place Finisher: Clint Bowyer

Ninth-Place Finisher: Jeff Gordon

Eighth-Place Finisher: Kyle Busch 

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, Tony Stewart

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