“We did something in happy hour (final practice) with this second car that, to be honest, it was actually something I had a little input on,” said Stewart after the race. “I’m not very smart, and it wasn’t because of me, for sure, but it was Chad (Johnston, crew chief) and I and everybody working together and trying to find a solution that might fix our problem.”
It was an investment, and it’s one for which Stewart made significant gains that he hopes pays long-term dividends.
While the 10th-place result was Stewart’s 300th in Sprint Cup since joining the series in 1999, it was just his third top-10 of 2015. With only three races remaining this year, the work being put forth is all about building for 2016, which will be Stewart’s last as a Sprint Cup driver.
This weekend at Texas Motor Speedway in Fort Worth, Stewart aims for continual gains of a capital nature in Sunday’s AAA Texas 500.
Stewart is a two-time Sprint Cup race winner at the 1.5-mile oval, having scored victories in November 2006 and November 2011, the latter of which led to his third Sprint Cup championship. Complementing his two wins are a pair of poles, six top-fives and 13 top-10s. Additionally, Stewart has completed all but 105 of the laps run in his 26 career starts at Texas for a lap-completion rate of 98.8. And he’s led a total of 801 laps, third-best among active Sprint Cup drivers.
Most recently, however, it’s what Stewart did during qualifying in the Lone Star State that made headlines. One year ago, Stewart drove his No. 14 Chevrolet to a record lap of 26.985 seconds at 200.111 mph. It was a lap that has gone down as the fastest ever recorded in a stock car at a 1.5-mile oval.
The same person who made that record-breaking lap a year ago returns to Texas intent on making the most of this weekend’s race. The AAA Texas 500 provides Stewart a new opportunity at a familiar venue, potentially allowing for a familiar run at the front of the field.