Tony Stewart’s disappointment with the way his 2015 season has unfolded was evident on Tuesday.
The three-time Sprint Cup Series champion was on NASCAR’s weekly teleconference in advance of next week’s Camping World Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt track he owns. While the Eldora race is cause for celebration for Stewart, he’s also 28th in the points standings through the first 18 races of the season.
Any joy about Eldora is muted by the way he’s been running in 2015, and Stewart said the optimism he had entering the season has wavered as his team has struggled.
“You know, I wish I could say, No, it didn’t,” Stewart did. “But it did. I mean, the whole year’s been frustrating. You know, it just seems like everywhere we go, we seem to fight the same balance. That’s the part that’s been frustrating for the whole 14 car.”
“We’re trying a ton of things and just can’t seem to find anything that moves the needle and seems to make significant change. Just seems like the further we go into the year, the more frustrating that gets, too.”
The previous three races could have been a perfect turning point for Stewart. He’s won twice at Sonoma, four times in the Daytona summer race and it reasoned he’d perform well at Kentucky with the lower downforce package. Stewart has not adapted well to the 2015 rules configurations.
He finished 12th at Sonoma and 14th at Daytona. Kentucky was a disaster. He hit the wall and ended up 33rd.
“Well, I think honestly I’m not sure I’m the best judge of it,” Stewart said of the Kentucky rules. “We’re fighting the handling of our car so bad right now that I’m not sure I’m a real good judge of it.”
“You know, it was a pretty considerable change package‑wise going into this weekend. Balance‑wise my car didn’t change. I think there’s guys that could tell you a lot more accurately about what the feel of it was better than I could at this point because we weren’t close enough to getting our car driving good to really understand it.”
NASCAR chairman Brian France said the sanctioning body liked what it saw at Kentucky but was also looking for more. Stewart said he thought the driver’s council, which has helped streamline communication between drivers and NASCAR (and perhaps help spur changes like we saw at Kentucky), is something he’s never seen. And that he’d like to see France there.
“It was all right to walk in the trailer and give [NASCAR officials] an idea, and that’s as far as it always went,” Stewart said. “Now you’re actually having meetings, working hand‑in‑hand with NASCAR. I think that’s something that I’ve never seen in this sport, which to me is really exciting as a driver and owner. I think it’s great.
“So, you know, as far as the flipside of that, I really don’t know what the answer is for that. But, I mean, I definitely think that seeing NASCAR’s involvement on the more personal side, I’d love to see Brian France show up at some of these council meetings and stuff, but I’m sure he’s busy.”
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