Stewart Sets Sights on Six
By: Pete Pistone - @PPistone | MRN.com on August 10, 2012 | 12:00 P.M. EST
Tony Stewart is a five-time winner at Watkins Glen International. (Photo: Getty Images)
Tony Stewart looks to add to his road-racing success with a sixth career victory at Watkins Glen International on Sunday afternoon.
The defending Sprint Cup Series champion has a stellar seven career road-course wins combined at The Glen and Sonoma and feels good about his chances for success in the weekend’s Finger Lakes 355 at The Glen.
“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.”
Although Stewart’s record at the historic upstate New York road course is sparkling, don’t ask him the secret to his success.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I mean it’s kind of that way with Sonoma, too. We seem to have taken to the road-racing side of it fairly well and we just have had good luck with it. I don’t know that there’s a secret to it, necessarily.
“There are some drivers that don’t look forward to the road-course races, and with us, we actually look forward to it. We like the change in pace and doing something different for a weekend. That’s something we always look forward to and it kind of gets us boosted up for the weekend.”
In his 13 career Sprint Cup starts at The Glen, Stewart has only three finishes worse than seventh – 26th in 2001, 11th in 2003 and 27th in 2011.
He’s not bad in Sonoma either where Stewart has two wins, three second-place finishes, five top-fives and nine top-10s in his 14 career Sprint Cup starts, giving him an average finish of 10.9.
But similarities between the two road circuits are few and far between according to Stewart.
“The two tracks, while both road courses, are still pretty different,” he said. “At Watkins Glen, you don’t have to finesse the throttle near as much as you do at Sonoma. When you get the car turned, you can get in the gas and then stay in the gas. Watkins Glen is much faster than Sonoma.
“I think there are the same amounts of passing opportunities, but because of the speeds that you’re able to run at The Glen, brakes become a much bigger factor than I think they are at Sonoma. It’s pretty much a horsepower track. It just happens to be in the form of a road course.”
Maybe more than anything, Stewart enjoys the pair of road circuits on the schedule simply because they provide competition outside the norm.
“I love the two road courses,” he said. “It’s nice because it kind of breaks up the monotony of the season. We do the same thing every week and it’s nice to have two road-course races thrown in the mix that give us a chance to do something a little bit off-center for all of us. It’s kind of like the ‘Prelude’ with no dirt added, unless you drive off, which a lot of us do. We still get a dirt aspect in it, I guess.”