Tony Stewart in his 1st year operating Stewart Haas has had a great season. 4 wins, 10 top 3s a series tied 15 top fives, 21 top tens, a series leading average finish of 9th and is 4th in points.
But but all that isn't enough for Stewart. Smoke wants the big trophy. And despite being a disappointing 155 points behind Jimmie Johnson, Stewart isn't ready to give up.
“All we can do is just do our job." Said Stewart. "Even if we win the race for the last five weeks in a row, there is still no guarantee that we could close the gap. All we can do is worry about ourselves right now. It really takes the pressure off of us. All we can do is go for broke now.”
History has shown that overcoming a large points isn't impossible. In 2004 Jimmie Johnson over came being 271 points behind Kurt Busch to be only 8 points behind Busch after the season finale at Homestead.
In 2006 Jimmie Johnson over came the biggest points deficit in chase history when he was 156 points behind leader Jeff Burton. A string 6 races where he placed 2nd, 1st, 2nd, 2nd and 2nd got him the points lead and a 9th place finish at Homestead won him the championship. Those finishes were also his first top tens of the chase.
And of course in 1992 with 6 races to go Alan Kulwicki was 278 points behind Bill Eliott. He would win the title by 10 points.
Stewart doesn't feel that Martinsvillie is a make or break race for him and that anything can happen.
“No, anything can happen to any of the teams. At this point, who knows? Until somebody comes up and says ok, mathematically you are out of it, until then, we have got a shot. That is all I can say about it. That is all we know. There is no blueprint that says, this is how you win or don’t win a championship. So as long as mathematically you still have a chance, you’re still in it. Until they tell you that you can’t physically or mathematically catch up, then you are still in it. You still have a shot.”
“When we won the USAC Silver Crown Series championship in ’95, we were the third driver of three that had a shot, mathematically, to win it. There were two drivers, Jack Hewitt and Dave Darland, that were neck-and-neck in the point standings, and we were kind of the third wheel. We were only included in the group media sessions because we were mathematically in the hunt. Both of those drivers ended up having problems in the race, and we won the point championship by two points. You realize when you use that experience, knowing that as long as you’re mathematically in the hunt, you still have a shot.”