Tony Stewart was right, and we were all wrong
When I say “we,” I mean all the fans and media members, including myself, who had the following thoughts prior to the season starting, such as:
-- “Tony Stewart can’t make the Chase this year … he’ll be adjusting to his new role as owner-driver.”
-- “Tony Stewart may win a race this year, but he won’t be a title contender.”
-- “What is he thinking leaving a great ride at Gibbs for an uncertain future as a team owner?”
Looking back, I still don’t doubt the logic we used. But now, more than halfway through the season, Stewart has shown just how big of an impact having a great driver and team members can have on a team’s success, even if that team is essentially brand new. I recognize that he gets help from Hendrick Motorsports … but he’s even outperforming that superteam’s drivers.
Looking at the point standings, the numbers are staggering. Stewart sits an amazing 260 points ahead of second-place Jimmie Johnson, 342 points ahead of third-place Jeff Gordon, and 481 points ahead of fourth-place Kurt Busch.
In 22 races, he has 18 top-10s and 13 top-5s. Those numbers are not just good, they’re flat-out ridiculous.
Add to this success the endless piles of money he is making both as driver and team owner, it’s pretty clear that Tony Stewart could very easily wag his finger at the world and say, “I told you so!” about his newfound success.
He’s not doing that however, instead just going out and performing each week like a true champion. Lesser drivers might get a big head after what he’s done with this new venture into team ownership, but Stewart is smart and recognizes that no matter how well he’s doing now, that doesn’t mean he has a smooth ride to the championship.
He knows that once the Chase hits in about a month, his massive lead will shrivel up in an instant. Regular season champ does not win a Cup title … the Chase winner does.
He knows he will have to be on top of his game all the way through Homestead, especially since Chase specialist Jimmie Johnson always seems to be at his best in the final 10 races every year.
And only then, after he completes this dominating season and shocks the world, will he point his finger at us and say, “I told you so!”