02 June 2013

Why, after winning at Dover, Tony Stewart is poised for a strong summer

Going into today's FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks, Tony Stewart was going through one of his worst seasons of his NASCAR career. Stewart had cracked the top 20 points only once this year, and not since Las Vegas. He only had two top tens on the year and no top fives. And for much of today's race, at a track that is one of Smoke's worse statistically, he was an afterthought yet again. But after a wild series of events, including race leader Jimmie Johnson being penalized for jumping the final restart with less than 20 laps to go,  Stewart found himself in victory lane for the first time since July of last year at Daytona. Now as we enter the summer stretch of 2013, here is why Stewart is poised for a big run.

Smoke has always been known for cranking it up when the temperatures get hotter and the schedule turns to summer. Some of his best tracks are ahead on the schedule, tracks like Pocono (two wins, top fives in last two races), Sonoma (two wins, 2nd place finish last year), Daytona (four wins in Coke Zero 400, defending race winner), Loudon (three wins, 14 top fives), Indianapolis (two wins, average finish of 8.2) and Watkins Glen (five wins, average finish of 7.9). And about half of his career wins come in the months June to August.

And not only has Stewart had tremendous amounts of success in the summer months, he finally has broken out of his slump with today's victory because he had been pretty disappointing all year long. After all, I did message a friend that he has been a scrub this year, and that was during the race. Now that he has bagged a victory at a track he historically is not very good at, that should give him plenty of confidence to make a run to the Chase.

Speaking of the Chase, today's win was also huge because it put Stewart into the Chase as of right now into one of the Wild Card slots due to no other driver in the top 20 but outside the top ten having a victory. If he can bag himself a few more victories in the next 13 races before the field for the Chase is set after Richmond, he could even put himself into good shape for another title. Is that looking ahead a little too much? Probably, but we do know that Smoke has put himself into good shape now with this clutch win.

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