By admin | November 17, 2009
By Richard Allen
Tony Stewart has always been known as a late charger. In each of his two Sprint Cup championship seasons he did not take the lead until late in the season and then went on to claim the title.
Typically, Stewart has come to life when the summer heat sets in and makes tracks slick and difficult to get a handle on. Thatâ€™s when the driver who has proven to be the best NASCAR driver on dirt moves to the front of the pack and carries that dog days momentum to the end of the season.
This year, much was made of the fact that Stewart took the Sprint Cup points lead earlier than he ever had. Apparently, that was a bad thing.
Stewart carried a comfortable 237 point lead over Jeff Gordon into the 26th race of the season in Richmond. Of course, after race his lead was erased when the standings were reset for the beginning of the Chase for the Championship. He currently sits 5th in the standings, 285 point behind Jimmie Johnson.
Instead of roaring to the title as he has in years past, Stewart has been passed by on his way to the finish.
This driver and his Stewart-Haas Racing team seems to have lost their momentum just after their win at Watkins Glen in August. After that victory, Stewart went five consecutive races without a top-10. Instead of roaring into the Chase, the #14 Chevrolet team sort of limped into the playoff.
Stewart has seemed to regain early season form over the last eight races. However, crashes, not of his own making, have slowed him within the Chase just enough to take him out of contention.
Throughout his career Tony Stewart has been a guy who started slowly and finished strong. For whatever reason, this season he has done pretty much the opposite.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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