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.
Aug 29, 2014, 4:16 PM EDT
Following an emotional press conference this morning, the three-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion got back to work.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:15 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. — Tony Stewart didn’t just wake up Friday morning and decide he was going to return to NASCAR racing. Rather, NASCAR officials required that Stewart followed procedures and protocols that included him being evaluated by outside professionals.
Aug 29, 2014, 3:05 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. – Tony Stewart is still eligible to make this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR president Mike Helton announced Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway. But for that to happen, Stewart must win one of the next two races to get in.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:47 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. — NASCAR president Mike Helton spoke with the media an hour after Tony Stewart read his self-prepared statement Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:44 PM EDT
Ontario County (N.Y.) Sheriff Philip Povero makes his first statement on the Tony Stewart/Kevin Ward Jr. crash investigation since Aug. 12.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:30 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. – Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Danica Patrick and Kurt Busch are fully in support of their boss, Tony Stewart, being back in a race car this weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:27 PM EDT
After reading from a prepared statement, Stewart left to prepare for Sprint Cup practice this afternoon. Stewart Haas Racing executive VP Brett Frood then took questions from the assembled media.
Aug 29, 2014, 2:19 PM EDT
Will Power on top in opening MAVTV 500 practice session.
Aug 29, 2014, 1:37 PM EDT
HAMPTON, Ga. – A visibly somber Tony Stewart, at times bordering on tears, faced the media and the NASCAR world for the first time in nearly three weeks Friday afternoon at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Aug 29, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT
Frenchman hoping to bounce back to form at the Singapore Grand Prix in three weeks’ time.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:30 PM EDT
NWI will sponsor Earnhardt and the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevy at Richmond, and will reveal its 2015 paint scheme for NASCAR’s most popular driver next week on social media.
Aug 29, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT
Kvyat has impressed the entire F1 community after a mature start to his career.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:09 AM EDT
Not something you see every day: Denny Hamlin lip syncing to Taylor Swift.
Aug 29, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT
Briton says that he shares a “deep foundation” with Rosberg despite their differences.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:30 AM EDT
Needless to say, we haven’t been bored, folks.
Aug 29, 2014, 10:00 AM EDT
German driver accepts responsibility for his on-track clash with Hamilton at Spa.
Aug 29, 2014, 9:30 AM EDT
Former Red Bull driver says that the management at Stuttgart must reel its drivers in to avoid a repeat of the incident we saw at Spa.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:19 AM EDT
Rosberg apologizes for incident during the Belgian Grand Prix that caused Hamilton to retire.
Aug 29, 2014, 8:00 AM EDT
Championship or not, a race win on Saturday night at Auto Club Speedway (9 p.m. ET, NBCSN and NBC Sports Live Extra) would mark an important milestone since the Frenchman resumed his IndyCar career three years ago.
Video from NASCAR America
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