FYI WIRZ: NASCAR's Tony Stewart and More Know Motorsports Momentum Exists

Dwight Drum@@racetakeCorrespondent IIIJune 24, 2013

Tony Stewart gets ready to take media on a thrilling pace car ride at Daytona International Speedway.  Credit: Dwight Drum
Tony Stewart gets ready to take media on a thrilling pace car ride at Daytona International Speedway. Credit: Dwight Drum

Momentum is a scientific term. All that one needs to do is reference the word in Merriam-Webster and bang—it’s back to physics class.

A property of a moving body that the body has by virtue of its mass and motion and that is equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity.

Enough of the technical properties, momentum has a second definition as well.

Strength or force gained by motion or by a series of events.

Now we got a definition that can fit a spectator world, a word that has meaning in the complex application of energy in sports.

It’s now safe to say that a force of events that leads to a win is momentum.

In motorsports both definitions apply to the action generated by driver and team because all racing vehicles have mass and velocity and humans are affected by good results in the way of renewed strength.

Enough of the lexicon journey, momentum may have many definitions, but perhaps the best way to wrap arms around the practical meaning of the word in motorsports is to quiz those who seek momentum with ferocity.

The following drivers are brave folks who take powerful vehicles to an extreme edge to win contests in their respective motorsports sanctions.

NASCAR’s Tony Stewart, Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Trevor Bayne know stock car racing well and have made it their primary occupation in life.

The fast race cars in NHRA don’t make turns at speed unless something goes wrong, but they do race side-by-side at phenomenal speeds. Jeg Coughlin Jr.,Troy Coughlin and Cruz Pedregon seek all the momentum they can acquire in as few seconds as possible.

IZOD IndyCar’s Helio Castroneves and Ed Carpenter are open-wheel drivers who seek the same kind of momentum NASCAR and NHRA drivers do—good results and wins. Along with other IndyCar competitors they maneuver very fast and sleek vehicles that could be dubbed terrestrial rocket ships.

This reporter took a simplified approach to attempts to know momentum by asking this question of nine great motorsports competitors.

Are you a strong believer in momentum and can you comment on the results it has on you and your team?

Tony Stewart is a strong believer in the effect of momentum. His Stewart Haas Racing team has struggled in 2013, but a recent win in Dover and several Top Five finishes have his No. 14 Chevrolet back in contention.

“When things are going good, everything falls in suit with it,” Stewart said. “I think it’s that way in any sport. It’s like that in business and life.”

Actually, Tony Stewart is among many motorsports stars to agree that momentum is desirable and effective.

Greg Biffle recently won his first race in 2013 and tried to define momentum after that.

It is a weird thing,” Biffle said. “I can't honestly explain why momentum is a good thing or a bad thing. But I can tell you that it definitely makes a difference. Whether it's the energy level, whether you feel good so that things are smoother, things go your way.”

Trevor Bayne had many reasons to be elated recently. He got married to his high-school sweetheart and won the NASCAR Nationwide race in Iowa all in the same week.

“Momentum is everybody not making mistakes and you get results,” Bayne said. “It can end tomorrow. You hit on things. You make your cars better. There’s no magic thing, nothing crazy. It’s just everybody working together and stuff not going wrong.”

Ryan Newman has struggled early with the SHR team, but has had much better finishes lately. Newman also has an engineering degree and knows the technical definition of momentum better than most.

“I think 99.9 percent of it is just the driver's attitude, the team's attitude, everybody,” Newman said. “We know what we are doing strategy-wise and that I think is the momentum more from an emotional and mental state than it is anything else.”

IZOD IndyCar great Helio Castroneves is versatile. He has won on “Dancing with the Stars” and right now with his win at Texas Motor Speedway he leads in the IndyCar points.

“It sets a little tone out there,”Castroneves said. “It helps when you start battling for the championship. It's great to set the momentum for the next race, keep the team's spirit up. Everybody knows what we can do.”

Ed Carpenter and team held off the intense force of many competitors to earn the pole at the 2013 Indianapolis 500.

“I think success breeds success,” Carpenter said. “We felt that coming off of a win last year. At Indy winning the pole—when you get results, it not only gives the driver confidence but it gives the whole team confidence. Success breeds success.”

Jeg Coughlin Jr. is a five-time NHRA champion who takes the family team tradition of testing what they sell to the fast Pro Stock Car class. Coughlin struggled in 2012 but has won and finished strong often in 2013.

“I believe momentum creates two things; confidence within the team and respect from your competitors,” Coughlin said. “Both of those typically translate to win lights.”

Troy Coughlin is a Team JEGS family member who took a chance on a unproven Corvette and won the colorful NHRA Pro Mod class championship in 2012.

“Yes we definitely believe in momentum,” Coughlin said. “There's no doubt it's a morale boost for both myself as a driver and the guys on the team for the hard work that they do.”

Cruz Pedregon has achieved two wins in NHRA’s fast Funny Car class in 2013.
“I wouldn't say strongly,” Pedregon said. “But I believe in momentum as far as our car seems to perform well no matter what part of the country we are in. Momentum is the cars that are already nudging their way up, the cars that are there for the long haul.”

It’s hopeful that fans are thankful for the knowing words of these nine intense motorsports competitors. It is believed they give up a combined practical application of more technical definitions like– equal to the product of the body's mass and velocity.

FYI WIRZ is the select presentation of topics by Dwight Drum at Unless otherwise noted, information and all quotes were obtained from firsthand interviews or official release materials provided by sanction and team representatives.