On Tuesday, three-time and reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion Tony Stewart was honored by President Barack Obama at The White House for winning the 2011 Sprint Cup title.
This fall, Obama will square off with Mitt Romney in the general election to decide who will be the President of the United States for the next four years. Romney, who has all but won the Republican nomination, has outlasted nearly all his party’s challengers during the primary season and will go for the biggest prize of all following his likely nomination at the Republican National Convention on Aug. 30 in Tampa, Fla.
While Romney’s primary season is nearly over, Stewart’s is just getting started.
Think of the Sprint Cup season as 26 primaries and a general election made up of 10 races. Drivers need to perform well in the season’s first 26 races in order to qualify for the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, which features the top-10 drivers in points, as well as two “wild card” drivers who have the most wins and are between 11th and 20th in the standings after the first 26 events.
The Sprint Cup season’s eighth “primary” is this Sunday in the battleground state of Kansas via the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway in Kansas City.
The polls show Stewart in a comfortable position for the 10-race “general election.” While he is currently seventh in the championship standings, 39 points behind series leader Greg Biffle, Stewart’s two wins thus far this season are the most of any driver, which puts him in prime position should he need to rely on the “wild card” to earn entry into the Chase.
A win at Kansas would not only give Stewart his third win of 2012, it would also give him his third victory at Kansas, breaking a three-way time between himself, Jimmie Johnson and Biffle for most wins at the track. In addition to victories at the 1.5-mile oval in October 2006 and October 2009, Stewart has eight top-10 finishes in 12 career Sprint Cup starts.
Bolstering Stewart’s driving record is the record of his car. Stewart and crew chief Steve Addington are bringing Chassis No. 14-706 – the same No. 14 Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet that led twice for 42 laps en route to winning the rain-shortened race March 25 at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, Calif.
The primary election is still months away, but as any good politician will tell you, it’s never too early to begin fundraising. Or, in Stewart’s case, accumulating wins and the delegates… err, points that come with winning.