By Toby Christie, NASCAR Editor
Tony Stewart is in sole possession of the final transfer spot (12th in the standings) in the Chase Grid after the first race of the playoffs at Chicagoland, but after a disappointing race in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 400 Stewart was not in an optimistic mood about his championship hopes.
After climbing from his No. 14 Rush Truck Centers Chevrolet SS after a 16th place finish, Stewart didn’t mince words about his day.
“It wasn’t much fun, but I was proud of Mike (Bugarewicz, crew chief) and the guys on the Rush Truck Centers Chevy,” Stewart explained. “We were probably a car that was going to be three or four laps down if we had to race yesterday. Today we got the luck dog twice, but we were much better, we just weren’t good enough to be where we needed to be. We gained on it for sure. You gain on it and still aren’t going to be good enough to move to the next round if we don’t get better than this.”
Stewart has always been an aggressive driver on the track, and he wears his emotions on his sleeve often in interviews. Hopefully Stewart’s emotions can help spur his team toward a championship much like what happened in 2011 when he won five of the final 10 races and beat Carl Edwards for the championship in a points tie breaker.
Next up for Stewart and the Sprint Cup Series is New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Earlier in the season, Stewart finished runner-up to Matt Kenseth at the track known as the Magic Mile, but Stewart is keeping his expectations tempered heading into next weekend’s race.
“Well, it was a good race for us in the spring, but I mean some of the guys that are behind us are guys that are really good too,” Stewart shrugged. “We are going to have to be on our game these next two weeks.”
Stewart is of course in the final year of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career, after announcing his retirement before the start of the 2016 season.