Tony Stewart: Why Is Smoke the Man To Beat in Texas?

Todd JacobsCorrespondent INovember 4, 2010

Tony Stewart's last trip to Texas started on the front row and ended in the wall on the 74th lap.
Tony Stewart's last trip to Texas started on the front row and ended in the wall on the 74th lap.Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tony Stewart is out of contention for the 2010 NASCAR Chase but he still has a huge opportunity to win one more race before the season closes in Homestead, Florida.  Stewart and his Stewart Haas team have let several potential wins slip away and now they will be traveling to one of their best tracks, the Texas Motor Speedway. The following are five reasons to fear Smoke in the state of Texas this weekend.

1)  Tony Stewart Has Qualified in Top 10 Five of Last Seven Races at Texas

Although Tony Stewart's not an overly dominant driver at Texas Motor Speedway, his numbers are solid.  Stewart has an average finish of 13th on the one and a half mile Texas Motor Speedway and he did finish in fourth for the April race in 2009.  In the spring race, Stewart finished in 32nd after qualifying on the pole, but his 2009 performances on the track were top notch. 

2)  Stewart is Comfortable Up Front at Texas

Aside from his win in 2006, Stewart has ten top tens in 17 races, and four of them are top fives.  Throw out the crash in 2009 and Stewart's average finish in the three previous races is 3.2.  Stewart has learned the secrets to setting up the car for the fast banked mile and a half.

3)  Stewart Can Save Season & Please Sponsors with Big Finish

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Since winning the Pepsi Max 400, Stewart has not broken the top 20 in the last three races.  It would be difficult to make a legitimate pick of Stewart without understanding what makes him tick. Stewart's season is lost, and this is potentially his best chance to rattle off three big finishes and potential wins at Texas, Phoenix and Homestead.

4)  Stewart's Last Win Was on the Fast Atlanta Mile and a Half. 

The Atlanta track is very similar to Texas in speed and in banking.  Texas is one of the tracks feared by most NASCAR drivers.  The incident involving Michael McDowell shows what can happen on this track when a driver makes a momentary lapse in judgement.

5)  Stewart's Sprint Car Background Helps Him at Texas

Tony Stewart's ability to drive a car that is loose in the corner and fearlessly mash the throttle as he exits gives him the edge over the NASCAR regulars that have never driven the high-powered dirt sprint cars.  Sprint drivers such as Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Tony Stewart always excel on these big tracks that drive so loose.

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