Tony Stewart is well aware of the role that luck plays in restrictor-plate racing.
The Columbus native hasn’t had much luck recently at restrictor-plate tracks Daytona (Florida) and Talladega (Alabama). He hopes for a little better luck in Sunday’s Camping World 500 at Talladega.
“Someone described racing on the superspeedways as being a combination of a science project and the luck of a casino, and it’s exactly that way,” Stewart said in a news release. “You do everything in your power to take care of the science or technology side. You do everything you can to build the fastest car. If you don’t have the luck to go with it — even if you don’t have any drama with getting the car touched, nothing happens to the car — if you’re just in the wrong spot at the wrong time, it can take you out of the opportunity to take the best racecar in the field and win.”
While Stewart is winless at Daytona, he has one win and six runner-up finishes at Talladega. But since that win in 2008, he has finished in the top 15 only once, and that was a seventh-place finish in his last NASCAR Sprint Cup championship season of 2011.
“Well, I’m not any happier about it than I’ve always been, but we’ve had a lot of success at restrictor-plate tracks,” Stewart said. “We’ve run in the top two at Talladega a gazillion times. I’m glad we’re halfway decent at it, but it’s still always frustrating when you have to rely on what everybody else does. It’s not what you do. It’s what you do along with somebody else who decides that they’re going to follow you and help you. That’s the part that frustrates you as a driver.”
Stewart said Daytona and Talladega are different tracks with their own characteristics, but it’s plate racing and that really doesn’t change.
“Daytona has always been billed as being more of the handling track, but we’re still drafting and we’ll be in a pack where you’ve got cars on top of each other,” Stewart said. “It’s all about being in the right place at the right time, and that’s the same whether we’re racing at Daytona or Talladega.”