By admin | October 2, 2011
By Richard Allen
After his win last week at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart made news by declaring in victory lane that he had recently gotten rid of some “dead weight”. His run on Sunday in Dover made it look as if the two time Sprint Cup champion found that lost appendage and tied it to his car.
On his way to a miserable 25th place finish, Stewart’s car ran as if it had an anchor dragging from the back. He was the lowest finisher among the twelve Chase for the Championship contestants.
Stewart had entered the AAA 400 as the leader of the standings after having won the first two Chase races in Chicago and New Hampshire. However, with his finish in the Dover event, the driver of the Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet now finds himself in a tie for third with Kurt Busch. Those two trail co-leaders Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards by nine points.
Just before the ten race playoff began Stewart declared that he and his team were merely taking up a spot in the Chase that a serious contender might use to actually challenge for the title. Based on his ‘regular season’ performance it would have been difficult to dispute Stewart’s argument.
However, Smoke caught fire when it came playoff time as shown by those two initial Chase wins.
But, Sunday’s poor performance should prompt those who pay attention to ask whether or not the real Tony Stewart and team returned from a brief two week anomaly. After 26 races with little more than above average results that barely got him into the Chase, Stewart may have simply found lightning in a bottle for two consecutive weeks only to return to the norm during the third playoff week.
Whatever the “dead weight” was that Tony Stewart referred to in victory lane last week, it seems to have returned on Sunday in Dover. Time will tell whether or not he is able to shed the excess metaphorical pounds and return to the status of serious title contender or not.
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