Skip to content

Tired of questions and doubt, Tony Stewart shows he’s back and just fine at Bristol

Mar 16, 2014, 11:36 PM EST

Photo courtesy GM Photos/Steve Fecht Photo courtesy GM Photos/Steve Fecht

The best way to get Tony Stewart inspired seems to be when he’s ticked off – and the proof of that was in his fourth-place finish in Sunday’s Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

As the first three weeks of the 2014 season had played out, Stewart had grown weary of questions from media and fans about how he was physically and how far he’s recovered since last August’s sprint car mishap that left him with a severely fractured right leg, causing him to miss the final 15 races of the Sprint Cup season.

When he got to Bristol last Thursday, Stewart may not have wanted to be reminded – but of course, the media did so – about his overall career record at the half-mile bullring, the second-worst performing track in his personal Cup annals.

A poor qualifying performance Saturday, forcing Stewart to take a provisional to sit 37th on Sunday’s starting grid didn’t help, either.

Enough was enough for Stewart, it would appear, as on Sunday he drove like the Smoke of old and gave hope to diehard fans who were concerned about the slow and dismal start he had in the season’s first three races (35th at Daytona, 16th at Phoenix, 33rd at Las Vegas).

“It’s not a win, I know that, but it feels like a win,” Stewart said. “I think we will take that.  Come to Bristol and run 500 laps here and a top five, that is just what the doctor ordered.”

Admittedly, there still is a slight downside. For as well as he performed, because of the way he finished in the three races beforehand, Stewart only improved slightly in the Sprint Cup standings, from 27th to 23rd.

Even so, there is now hope where there was little before Bristol, where he earned his best finish since a runner-up showing in the 2010 spring race there, four years ago.

Smoke may not be totally back, but Sunday’s finish would seem to indicate that he’s at least on the right track.

“To start 37th and end up fourth today, I’m pretty excited about that,” Stewart said. “We had a long way to go from Friday, when we weren’t very good and every day we just got better and better. So, I’m really proud of this team.”

Of course, Stewart was once again asked how he felt physically after the race. Would you expect anything less from the media?

Without batting an eye, his response was vintage Stewart, bringing the house down with laughter: “I feel great! Let’s do it again!”

While Stewart will likely continue to be ticked off every now and then by the media, for at least a few days he shook off the pessimists and can look forward to next Sunday’s race at Fontana with optimism.

“It’s a step in the right direction for sure,” Stewart said. “This is a big one. If you come out of this place with a top-five you’ve had a good day.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Latest Posts
  1. WATCH LIVE: FP3 for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

    Nov 22, 2014, 4:45 AM EST

    Mideast Emirates F1 GP Auto Racing AP

    Nico Rosberg must stop Lewis Hamilton’s dominance in practice if he is to put the pressure on for qualifying.

  2. Formula E: Sam Bird soars to victory in Putrajaya ePrix

    Nov 22, 2014, 2:33 AM EST

    The Goodwood Festival of Speed - Day 1 Getty Images

    A nifty early move for the lead and masterful power conservation gives Bird the win in Malaysia.

  3. Nicolas Prost wins Formula E Malaysia pole, but must serve 10-spot grid penalty

    Nov 21, 2014, 10:22 PM EST

    CHina Formula E Auto Racing AP

    Prost will start tonight’s Putrajaya ePrix from 11th, while Oriol Servia and Jerome d’Ambrosio of Dragon Racing will be at the head of the field.

  4. Sam Bird tops Formula E practice in Malaysia

    Nov 21, 2014, 8:27 PM EST

    AUTO-FORMULAE-CHN Getty Images

    The Virgin Racing pilot takes top honors in a 75-minute practice session ahead of qualifying and tonight’s Putrajaya ePrix.

  5. NASCAR AMERICA: A well-deserved title for Kevin Harvick (VIDEO)

    Nov 21, 2014, 7:00 PM EST

    NASCAR Champions Portraits Getty Images

    Kevin Harvick and his No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing team had to go through a lot in 2014 to win the Sprint Cup title. NASCAR AMERICA’s Rick Allen and Kyle Petty discuss.

  6. NASCAR AMERICA: The final pit strategies of the Championship 4 (VIDEO)

    Nov 21, 2014, 6:00 PM EST

    Credit: Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/MCT Credit: Joe Cavaretta/Sun Sentinel/MCT

    Kevin Harvick’s four-tire call late at Homestead proved to be the difference in his title-clinching victory last weekend. NASCAR AMERICA discuss how pit strategy made an impact.

  7. NASCAR: John Wes Townley to run full-time trucks, part-time XFINITY in 2015

    Nov 21, 2014, 4:48 PM EST

    UNOH 225 Getty Images

    His Athenian Motorsports team will switch to Chevrolet and get Hendrick engines for its dual programs.

  8. Kevin Magnussen not seeing Abu Dhabi as battle for survival at McLaren

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:15 PM EST

    F1 Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi - Practice Getty Images

    Magnussen on his future with McLaren: “I honestly assume that no decision has been made on the management level so far, but I would deny that this race is something of a shoot-out.”

  9. Watch NASCAR America 5 pm ET – Final Scan All 43 – Championship Edition

    Nov 21, 2014, 3:00 PM EST

    nascar america

    You say you need a NASCAR fix? Well, don’t worry, Friday is the final installment of our NASCAR America – Scan All 43 episodes, entitled “NASCAR America: Scan All 43 – Championship Edition.”

  10. Abu Dhabi GP Paddock Notebook – Friday

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:30 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    Lewis Hamilton sent out a statement of intent during practice for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix today, beating Nico Rosberg in both practice sessions.

  11. Kristensen’s retirement leaves a void bigger than just a race seat

    Nov 21, 2014, 2:15 PM EST

    FRA-AUTO-LEMANS Getty Images

    Replacing Tom Kristensen will be no easy task at Audi.

  12. Alonso anticipating hardest qualifying of 2014 in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:45 PM EST

    Fernando Alonso AP

    Electrical failure in FP2 robs the Spaniard of some much-needed track time after sunset in Abu Dhabi.

  13. Mercedes drivers confident there is time to be found after Abu Dhabi practice

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:15 PM EST

    Lewis Hamilton AP

    Hamilton and Rosberg leaving nothing in reserve as they fight for the F1 drivers’ championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend.

  14. Jimmie Johnson: Kevin Harvick winning Sprint Cup title was “the right thing”

    Nov 21, 2014, 1:00 PM EST

    Jimmie Johnson, Kevin Harvick AP

    The six-time champ says a title victory for Ryan Newman last weekend at Homestead “would have been tough to swallow for the sport.”

  15. Sports car notes: Emerson Fittipaldi to return to racing in Brazil, and more

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:45 PM EST

    2013 Laureus World Sports Awards Nominations Getty Images

    Emerson Fittipaldi to a race a Ferrari F458 Italia in Brazil next week, plus two PWC notes.

  16. GP2: Vandoorne claims fourth straight pole position in Abu Dhabi

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:30 PM EST

    © GP2 Media © GP2 Media

    McLaren junior driver becomes the first in GP2 history to score four poles in a row.

  17. 2014 F1 championship showdown preview: Nico Rosberg

    Nov 21, 2014, 12:00 PM EST

    AUTO-PRIX-F1-ABU-DHABI-PRESSER Getty Images

    Part two of the championship profiles sees us take a look at Nico Rosberg’s rise through Formula 1 and to within reach of the world championship. Can he follow in his father’s footsteps and win the title?

Video from NASCAR America

Most unexpected event of 2014?
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. J. Johnson (1730)
  2. J. Gordon (1691)
  3. K. Harvick (1668)
  4. R. Newman (1650)
  5. J. Logano (1603)
  1. D. Hamlin (1587)
  2. T. Stewart (1343)
  3. K. Larson (1283)
  4. M. Kenseth (1262)
  5. J. McMurray (1123)