Mar 15, 2014, 3:36 PM EDT
A poor car sent Tony Stewart to a 33rd place finish last weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which continued his problematic comeback from a broken leg that ended his 2013 season last summer.
The three-time Sprint Cup champion appears to be up against it again this weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway after qualifying 37th – the worst out of the four-car Stewart-Haas Racing camp.
But while SHR struggles to get competitive across the board outside of Kevin Harvick (who won two weeks ago at Phoenix and was a threat in Vegas until his car suffered a wheel hub failure), the team’s vice president of competition – and Stewart’s former crew chief at Joe Gibbs Racing – says that the sometimes combustible Stewart has not lost his cool over the early struggles.
“We’re just not giving him what he’s comfortable with,” Greg Zipadelli admitted to the AP’s Jenna Fryer. “We’re dragging the racetrack. It’s not little things. It’s way off. Last week [at Vegas] was a human error. He did an amazing job driving that car. I went down in the corner and watched it and most people would have wrecked that thing.
“We got it home and found some mechanical, human error. Shame on us. That stuff can’t happen at this level. It certainly shouldn’t happen to that caliber of driver. We owe him a lot more than that.”
It should also be noted that in addition to recovering from his leg injury, Stewart has also been trying to find the proper rhythm with a new crew chief in former Michael Waltrip Racing member Chad Johnston.
From Zipadelli’s standpoint, Stewart and Johnston have been improving in regards to communication and that eventually, a “platform” will be found to help Stewart return to contender status.
“It seems every week they start a little bit behind in trying to figure out what he wants,” Zipadelli added. “I feel like the group we have there will do a really good job once we find that platform that Tony wants.
“They’re very detailed, understanding and will be able to tune and be able to bring him the same thing week in and week out once they find it.”
But in the here and now, Stewart faces a tall task tomorrow as he aims to move from deep within the field. Bristol has not been one of his better tracks in recent years, with just one Top-5 finish (a second in the 2010 spring race) in his last 10 starts there.
Sep 19, 2014, 3:30 PM EDT
“…We’re looking for just that little sliver of speed to get back to a dominant position.” – Johnson
Sep 19, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT
Finishing P1 not enough for the Briton following his Friday running in Singapore.
Sep 19, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
“I hope it’s before the end of this year, but if not, we won’t be too disappointed. We’ve been running well all season long.” – Larson
Sep 19, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT
German driver rallies to finish in the top five in both sessions despite an engine failure.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:30 PM EDT
Already in the Contender Round for the Chase, Keselowski gets his weekend at New Hampshire off to a good start.
Sep 19, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
German driver feeling comfortable ahead of qualifying in Singapore tomorrow.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:43 PM EDT
IndyCars get their first postseason running with Firestone tire test next week.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
Not what the Venezuelan would have planned heading into his Friday programme at Marina Bay.
Sep 19, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Returning to Kyle Busch’s No. 51 Truck, the 17-year-old Jones is making his first appearance this weekend at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT
One of the most controversial F1 rulings in history could be scrapped after just one season.
Sep 19, 2014, 11:03 AM EDT
A red flag for Pastor Maldonado stops Nico Rosberg from posting a quick lap time, forcing him to settle for P12 at the finish.
Sep 19, 2014, 10:53 AM EDT
Belardi Auto Racing confirms its first Indy Lights driver for 2015.
Sep 19, 2014, 9:15 AM EDT
Can Fernando Alonso double up to top FP2? Or will Mercedes rise to the top as night falls in Singapore?
Sep 19, 2014, 8:30 AM EDT
Who will star under the lights in Singapore? The MST writing team has its say.
Sep 19, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Will Buxton brings you the latest news and interviews from the paddock in Singapore.
Sep 19, 2014, 7:33 AM EDT
First blood goes to Ferrari in Singapore as Vettel and Vergne hit trouble.
Sep 19, 2014, 6:30 AM EDT
Teams put pressure on F1’s governing body to perform u-turn on the planned radio limits.
Sep 19, 2014, 5:45 AM EDT
FP1 offers the first chance for drivers to get to grips with the Marina Bay Street Circuit in the 2014 cars. Watch live on Live Extra from 6am ET.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:21 PM EDT
While Boris Said was getting ready for this weekend’s IMSA Tudor Championship event at Circuit of the America’s in Austin, Texas, it’s noteworthy to mention that Thursday was his 52nd birthday.
Sep 18, 2014, 9:02 PM EDT
Michael Waltrip took a big step when he agreed to compete on Season 19 of “Dancing With the Stars.” Now, Waltrip has gone and put his foot in his mouth by trying to kick Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the behind, so to speak.
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