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 EDT

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. Highlights of IndyCar’s Honda Indy 2 in Toronto (VIDEO)

    Jul 23, 2014, 12:00 PM EDT

    ConwayTOR3 AP

    Video highlights from the Honda Indy 2 in Toronto on Sunday.

  2. IMSA: Sage Karam joins CGR lineup at IMS

    Jul 23, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    Karam01 Getty Images

    Sage Karam fills in for Memo Rojas at IMS for the TUDOR Championship race this weekend.

  3. NASCAR: Logano interview makes one young writer’s dream come true

    Jul 23, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

    LoganoAT Getty Images

    University student gets to interview Joey Logano at New Hampshire, and fortuitous timing before his day ended early due to contact with Morgan Shepherd.

  4. NASCAR: Mudsummer Classic at Eldora looks for a solid sequel

    Jul 23, 2014, 9:43 AM EDT

    The CarCash Mudsummer Classic Getty Images

    Eldora Truck race tonight seeks to be as good as the original.

  5. NASCAR: Rudd, Jarrett, Bobby Labonte look back on Brickyard 400 triumphs

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:33 PM EDT

    Ricky Rudd Getty Images

    Time has not lessened the significance of winning at Indy for these three NASCAR standouts.

  6. NASCAR: This time at Indy, it’s just stock cars for Kurt Busch

    Jul 22, 2014, 7:13 PM EDT

    (Photo: Scott Halleran/Getty Images) Getty Images

    The Outlaw returns to Indianapolis for the first time since his Indy 500-Coke 600 double back in May.

  7. IndyCar: Want Juan Pablo Montoya’s penthouse? It’ll cost you – a lot

    Jul 22, 2014, 5:54 PM EDT

    montoya3 Getty Images

    The Team Penske pilot is putting up his six-bedroom Miami penthouse for a cool $14 million. Better start saving up…

  8. NASCAR: Roush camp looking for speed in Michigan test

    Jul 22, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT

    AAA Texas 500 Getty Images

    Seeking to catch up with their Ford stablemates at Team Penske, Roush Fenway Racing’s trio of Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle, and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. have been searching for speed in a two-day test session at Michigan International Speedway.

  9. Indy’s new scoring pylon is quite colorful (PHOTOS)

    Jul 22, 2014, 3:00 PM EDT

    Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway Credit: Indianapolis Motor Speedway

    The new, 92-foot pylon is made up of four LED panels capable of video animations that relay race info to fans.

  10. MRTI: Cape’s Toronto sweep; Burkett’s latest videos; other odds and ends

    Jul 22, 2014, 2:00 PM EDT

    MazdaRoadToIndy

    Recapping the future stars of IndyCar in action at Toronto this weekend.

  11. Report: Mexican Grand Prix set for 2015 return?

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:47 PM EDT

    Grand Premio Tecate Getty Images

    A report from Mexico says that Bernie Ecclestone has signed a five-year pact to bring F1 to Mexico City’s Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez starting next season.

  12. IndyCar: Hinchcliffe continues to endure home race house of horrors

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:00 PM EDT

    HinchTOR3 Getty Images

    A miserable home weekend in Toronto strikes James Hinchcliffe yet again.

  13. Claire Williams gives vote of confidence for Felipe Massa

    Jul 22, 2014, 12:41 PM EDT

    F1 Grand Prix of China - Practice Getty Images

    Williams’ deputy team principal on Massa: “He is mature enough – and has enough experience in the sport – to realize that sometimes, things don’t go your way.”

  14. Realistically, could Toronto IndyCar shift date to CTMP?

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:55 AM EDT

    CTMPWide Getty Images

    Given politics, dates and dreams, could an IndyCar race at CTMP be possible?

  15. Formula E: Jerome d’Ambrosio confirmed with Dragon Racing

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:30 AM EDT

    JDAFE Getty Images

    Ex-F1 shoe Jerome d’Ambrosio gets signed up for new FE series.

  16. Kyle Larson, Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan featured in Cottonelle ads (VIDEO)

    Jul 22, 2014, 11:00 AM EDT

    LarsonCottonelle Getty Images

    Kyle Larson’s got a new house, a new kid on the way and now a new Cottonelle ad he might not be able to live down.

  17. Report: Toto Wolff speaks out against F1′s double points finale

    Jul 22, 2014, 10:08 AM EDT

    Spanish F1 Grand Prix - Practice Getty Images

    Mercedes’ Toto Wolff calls double points “unfair.”

  18. IndyCar: Toronto weekend analysis, musings and observations

    Jul 22, 2014, 9:25 AM EDT

    TorontoAnalysis Getty Images

    MST’s Tony DiZinno recaps the weekend in Toronto, that featured a host of surprises.

  19. IndyCar: Gaps grow, but few major changes in points over last month

    Jul 22, 2014, 8:26 AM EDT

    TorontoLeadPts Getty Images

    The stretch of six races in four weekends is over, as is the stretch of doubleheader weekends for the 2014 Verizon IndyCar Series season. Here’s the points breakdown.

  20. Chase Elliott keeps winning, but he’s not finished capturing checkered flags this season by any stretch

    Jul 22, 2014, 1:38 AM EDT

    Chase Elliott after Saturday's win at Chicagoland Speedway. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh) AP

    With the third win of his rookie Nationwide Series career, Chase Elliott continued to make it look easy in this past Saturday night’s EnjoyIllinois.com 300 at Chicagoland Speedway.

More from NASCAR America

Keselowski in championship form

Featured video

Inside scoop with Adrian Sutil
Top 10 NASCAR Driver Searches
  1. K. Kahne (791)
  2. C. Edwards (701)
  3. J. Gordon (645)
  4. T. Stewart (599)
  5. B. Scott (560)