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Stewart targets Vegas for 'check'
Three championships have changed Tony Stewart, mostly in a good way.
Stewart has always been outspoken, but nowadays he doesn’t have to engage in the obligatory, false humility that characterizes who have dabbled but not … arrived. Stewart used to engage in that “every race is the same” nonsense and play down the fact that he had never won the Daytona 500. He still hasn’t, but he’s much more willing to admit that failures burn away at the lining of his soul.
There’s no cause for worry. Stewart’s won three championships. He wants it all now that his career is at the top of the stretch and he knows it’s time to go to the whip. Among Stewart’s 44 victories are at least one at every track on the Sprint Cup Series except Las Vegas, Darlington and Kentucky. The latter has hosted only one race. He’s won a Nationwide Series race at Darlington (which, let’s be serious, doesn’t even come close to counting).
Each of the three tracks hosts only one race a year. Stewart’s only annual shot at Las Vegas Motor Speedway is next.
A year ago Stewart let the Kobalt Tools 400 slip away. He led 163 of the 267 laps but finished second mainly as a result of a pit-road mistake. Stewart ran over an air hose, and the penalty left him in 24th place. Edwards got back up to second, but Carl Edwards won the race.
“That’s a race we should’ve won,” Stewart recalled. “Winning in Sprint Cup is hard enough as it is, and when you have a race like that and you’re not able to close the deal, especially at a track where you haven’t won yet, that’s hard.
“I wasn’t really in any mood to appreciate it right after the race, or even when I was in the media center talking about it, but on the flight home, and then Tuesday at the shop when I saw all the guys and we had our competition meeting, the anger went away.”
The competitive fires will undoubtedly be burning on Sunday.
Monte Dutton; 704-869-1841; twitter.com/montedutton