Tony Stewart Hopes For First Talladega Win On April 29 In The Aaron's 499
Over the past eight years, there haven't been many drivers better than Tony Stewart when it comes to racing at Talladega Superspeedway. But every race, there's always been at least one who was.
Stewart has competed in 16 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup races at Talladega since his rookie season on the circuit in 1999. Ten times he has finished in the top-six. He has been runner-up an astounding half-dozen times.
And nearly as amazing, despite being so close so often, Stewart is winless at NASCAR's Most Competitive Track. None of his 29 career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup victories has occurred on the 2.66-mile tri-oval.
Stewart will try to change that on April 29 in the Aaron's 499.
Despite his inability so far to visit Gatorade Victory Lane, Stewart said he enjoys his trips to Talladega Superspeedway, both on and off the track.
In terms of the race, Stewart is quick to point out that he usually finishes ahead of most of the field, even if he doesn't win.
"We haven't won there, but look at how many second-place finishes we've had," Stewart said. "Anytime you can finish in the top-two, it is like a win at Talladega, especially when you've done it as consistently as we have.
"You can say the track hasn't been kind to me with as many second-place finishes as we've had, but there are 41 guys who didn't have it as good as we had it those days. There have been a lot of days where we ran second, and it was as good as a win for us.
"The 2005 spring race (won by Jeff Gordon) was a perfect example. We knew we didn't have the best car, but we ended up with a second-place finish. That was the best we could do, and we left the track with smiles on our faces."
Stewart said he also tends to smile a lot in the days leading up to the Talladega races. He has developed a friendship with longtime short-track racer Red Farmer and other Alabama natives, and Stewart said he uses his time in the state as a mini vacation.
"The Talladega weeks are always fun weeks for me because I go fishing, and it's a week where I don't turn my cell phone on and I don't worry about the race car," Stewart said. "It's just a week to kind of hit the reset button, and by the time I get to the track, I'm fresh and ready to go. I always have fun when I come to Talladega."
While Stewart obviously would love to finally win a race at Talladega Superspeedway, he said he is not upset about his winless streak at the track because of the nature of draft racing, which requires drivers to find a "pushing" partner to help them work their way to the front.
"For us to have finished second there six times, that's something to be pretty proud of because Talladega is not a race track where you can do it all on your own. You've got to have help," Stewart said. "Our finishing average is pretty high - higher than most for the amount of races we've run there. So I'm pretty satisfied with the way we've run there."
Satisfied enough that Stewart feels confident heading into the Aaron's 499. After all, he knows that a victory at Talladega literally has been only one position away numerous times. And as long as he is that close, Stewart said he likes his chances, regardless of the situation.
"If our car isn't right (early), I'll wrestle it around the whole day if I have to," Stewart said. "I feel like I'm pretty good about knowing when to pick the right holes and where to go and when to go."
For Stewart, the only place left to go at Talladega Superspeedway is Gatorade Victory Lane.
Talladega Superspeedway welcomes fans back for another year of the most competitive racing on the NASCAR circuit! Get your tickets now for Aaron's Dream Weekend, set for April 27 - 29, 2007, featuring the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series and Aaron's 499 NEXTEL Cup Series races. Friday, April 27 will feature The Birmingham News
Qualifying for the NASCAR Busch Series. Saturday, April 28 will feature The Birmingham News Qualifying for the NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series and the Aaron's 312 NASCAR Busch Series race. Then on Sunday, April 29, NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series drivers will compete in the Aaron's 499, the ninth race of the season. Kids age 11 and younger are admitted free of charge when accompanied by a ticketed adult on Friday and Saturday. Tickets are available by calling 1-877-Go2-DEGA (462-3342) Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. CDT, or by logging onto www.talladegasuperspeedway.com. For our hearing impaired guests, please call TDD 1-866-ISC-TRAK (1-866-472-8725). You may also purchase tickets in person at Talladega Superspeedway's Ticket Office from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. CDT, Monday - Friday.