Heat is on Stewart at The Glen
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 14, 2011 | 11:29 A.M. EST
Tony Stewart is a five-time winner at Watkins Glen International. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tony Stewart needs another one of his trademark solid days at Watkins Glen International Raceway to keep his bid for a spot in the Chase alive.
The Stewart-Haas Racing driver is still winless this season and comes into Sunday’s Heluva! Good Sour Cream Dips at The Glen eighth in the Sprint Cup Series point standings.
A sixth career win at the 2.45-mile upstate New York road course would go a long way in taking the heat off Stewart’s quest for a Chase berth with only five races remaining in the regular season.
But Stewart doesn’t feel any pressure and doesn’t plan on panicking any time soon.
“This is my 31st year in racing,” he said. “You take one weekend at a time and you don’t think about the numbers as to how long it’s been since the last time you’ve won. You just go with the same attitude you do every weekend, and that’s to try and win the race. You go through the steps of trying to put yourself in that position to be there at the end of the day. You focus on what you need to do to win the race you’re in.”
Stewart has to feel confident about his chances on Sunday given the impressive performances he’s turned in over the year at Watkins Glen.
In addition to his five wins, in six of the series’ last seven visits to The Glen, Stewart has either won or finished second. His lone finish outside the top-two was his seventh-place effort last year.
“It’s a race that we always look forward to,” Stewart said. “We’ve had a lot of success there and it’s just fun. It’s like taking Sonoma and just multiplying the speed times three. It’s just a lot faster track. It still has the same elevation changes, but you’re just running a lot quicker. Both Sonoma and Watkins Glen are two places on the schedule that we really enjoy coming to.
“When you’ve won five races, it gives you that confidence that you know how to win, and know what you have to do to get to victory lane. I know what feel I need when we get here. It’s just a matter of going out and practicing and putting yourself in that position.”
Stewart believes better days lie ahead for his team based on the effort his seen in recent weeks. The two-time champion has moved from 12th to ninth in the standings over the last four weeks and sees no reason why that trend can’t continue.
“We’re getting our cars better, and that’s what I’m happy about,” Stewart said. “I’m not really that worried about the points. I mean, it’s not like we’re comfortable because we’re not locked in yet. So, you still have to worry about it, but I’m more worried about what we’ve got if we get to the Chase. It doesn’t matter if we get to the Chase and don’t have anything to run for a championship with. We’ve got to just keep plugging away.
“We’re not all the way there, but we’re gaining on it and that’s encouraging. This is the time of the year when you want to be building momentum and not losing it. We’ve had some strong runs here recently. I’m hoping that trend is going to keep going. If it does, I’d much rather be in this situation than leading the points when it doesn’t get you anything.”