Stewart can still win Chase as owner

When the NASCAR Sprint Cup season concludes Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Tony Stewart won’t be in the running for the Chase championship.

But one of the Columbus native’s drivers on the Stewart-Haas Racing unit will be in contention. Kevin Harvick will be vying for his second consecutive Chase title.

Harvick won last year’s title driving for Stewart-Haas. That was a new experience for Stewart, who has won three Sprint Cup titles as a driver.

“It’s different because it’s one of your best friends you see winning the championship and accomplishing that goal,” Stewart said in a news release. “So you get to celebrate with him and celebrate with the organization instead of just having that feeling of winning a championship as a driver. So it was considerably different.”

Stewart’s titles as a driver came in 2002, 2005 and 2011. He captured the 2011 crown with a victory in the season finale at Homestead-Miami.

While Stewart seemed to be more polarizing when he won his first title in 2002, sometimes getting more boos than cheers at driver introductions, he now gets mostly cheers.

“Because I’ve stayed true to who I am, and I’m honest and say what’s on my mind,” Stewart said. “I’ve never changed who I was and have never changed my views on things to be popular. I’ve just stayed the course, and I think people respect that.”

Stewart said it is difficult when he’s not in a championship battle to keep his focus through the end of the season.

“Yeah, because all everybody wants to do is talk about the guys who are in it, and all we want to do is worry about the stuff that we’re doing that didn’t get us in it and trying to make our cars better,” Stewart said.

“That is the stuff we’re trying to work on and to concentrate on our program and not worry about what everybody else is doing. And it’s hard. You want to be in the middle of it and you want to be one of those guys who are there; but at the same time, when it doesn’t work out, you have to sit there and try to figure out why you didn’t get yourself in that situation. They’re still trying to fight for this year, but we’re already fighting for next year.”