Its been nearly three full years since Tony Stewart last reached victory lane in a NASCAR sanctioned race. Stewart, last drove his No. 14 Chevrolet to victory lane at the Dover International Speedway in June of 2013. Little did he know then, that his racing career would be turned upside down in a span of three seasons since.
He broke his leg in a sprint car race in August of that year, causing him to miss the duration of the season after that compound fracture. Then, he tragically struck a fellow sprint car racer the very next year, causing him to miss a few races as a result of that incident as well.
If that wasn’t enough, he was involved in an all-terrain accident in a desert on the west coast forcing him to miss the first eight races of 2016. Overall, he missed 26 races in the last three years and that’s after making 521 consecutive starts from 1999 through the accident in 2013.
Mixed in-between there, was his worst year to date racing season in 2015, after a final points finish of 28th. The rough season last year and the off track issues made Stewart want to hang it up after the 2016 season.
With missing the opening eight races, Stewart needs to win in order to make the Chase in his final year. He’s currently 59 points behind Regan Smith in 30th in the standings as he needs to make up all that ground and reach victory lane if he wants any part of NASCAR’s 10 race playoff.
Well, he could really improve those chances this weekend.
NASCAR returns to Dover as this could be the weekend Stewart ends his winless drought.
Stewart is typically good there and three top 15’s in his last five Dover starts. On top of that, he has been solid in his first two races back in 2016, as he finished 19th at Richmond and 12th last week in Kansas.
It seems like he has better cars and is more competitive so far this year compared to last and if he can get Kevin Harvick’s setup to work this weekend (Harvick finished in the top two in both Dover starts a year ago), then he’s going to be a factor.
Don’t be shocked to see Stewart running up front this weekend. A pit gamble could win him the race.