Tony Stewart’s last NASCAR Sprint Cup Series win came 36 races ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. Wheeling a black and yellow No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet SS for Stewart-Haas Racing (SHR), Stewart started 22nd and captured victory by way of a late-race pit call, where a two-tire pit stop with just 19 laps remaining put him in position for the win. Stewart took the lead for the first time on lap 398 of the 400-lap race and never looked back. It was Stewart’s 48thcareer Sprint Cup win and his third at the concrete, 1-mile oval.
This weekend, Stewart returns to Dover as the defending winner of the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks. And much like last year when he came into Round No. 13 on the 36-race Sprint Cup schedule, Stewart is looking for a jumpstart to his season.
Prior to last year’s victory, Stewart was 20th in points with only two top-10 finishes. This year, Stewart is 22nd in points with four top-10 finishes. A case of déjà vu would suit Stewart and his Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 team just fine.
A repeat performance is certainly possible, for the last two times Stewart has raced on a concrete track, he has finished first and fourth. The win, of course, was last year at Dover. The fourth-place finish came earlier this year when Stewart finished fourth at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. Stewart didn’t race at either Bristol or Dover last fall after having to sit out the final 15 races of the 2013 season with a broken right leg sustained in an Aug. 5 sprint car accident.
The layoff didn’t seem to affect Stewart, at least when it came to racing on concrete, as Stewart’s fourth-place finish at Bristol indicated. While Dover is the next race on a concrete surface, Stewart and his No. 14 Code 3 Associates/Mobil 1 Chevrolet have spent plenty of time on a concrete track, specifically, Nashville (Tenn.) Superspeedway. Stewart tested at the 1.33-mile oval April 30-May 1 and then Scott Riggs spent May 6-7 testing at Nashville in the same car Stewart had driven.
That car, Chassis No. 14-825, is what Stewart used to finish fourth at Bristol, and it’s the same car Stewart will race this weekend at Dover.
The car’s history is short, unlike Stewart’s history at Dover, where the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks will mark his 30th Sprint Cup start at the aptly named Monster Mile. In his 29 previous starts, Stewart has three wins, three second-place finishes, 11 top-fives, 16 top-10s and a total of 1,075 laps led.
Just like his 29th start, Stewart’s 30th start at Dover will come with Code 3 Associates (www.Code3Associates.org) aboard his No. 14 Chevrolet. Code 3 Associates is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization specializing in animal rescue and recovery in disaster areas. The continued operation of Code 3 Associates relies totally on the generosity of donors and bravery of its responders. Increasing awareness of the organization’s mission is the reason for the partnership with SHR. Stewart knows delivering another strong run at Dover is the best way to deliver for Code 3 Associates.
Stewart delivered in the best way possible in his last visit to Dover, and he knows that his next best shot at victory is paved with concrete.