Stewart finds peace after Michigan races

Although Tony Stewart hasn’t had a lot of bad days at Michigan International Speedway, the ones he does have don’t stay bad for long after the race.

When Stewart takes the helicopter ride from the track in Brooklyn to the airport, he often counts the deer he sees as he takes in the scenery above Michigan’s Irish Hills.

“If you have had a bad day, that’s the one thing that makes your day better — being able to see deer out in the field or seeing them at the edge of the woods,” Stewart said in a news release. “That seems to always take the edge off by the time you get to the airport.”

The Columbus native will race today in Michigan for what likely will be the final time in his NASCAR Sprint Cup career. The Pure Michigan 400 is scheduled for 2 p.m.

Stewart started third and finished seventh in the June race at Michigan. That event featured a new rules package that reduced downforce and sideforce stabilization, placing an emphasis on handling, plus driver skill and input.

“I loved the new downforce package we raced there in June,” Stewart said. “I absolutely loved it. We got to drive the cars. We got to make a difference in the car and manipulate things. That is what we have all been wanting.”

Although his lone win at Michigan came in 2000, Stewart has a pair of runner-up finishes there in his 12 top-five finishes and 21 top-10s. He has led a total of 225 laps in his 33 career Sprint Cup starts at the venue.

Stewart thinks the corners are key at Michigan.

“If you over-drive the entry a little bit too much, the amount of time it takes to get the front end of the car caught up and get it to where you can get back in the gas — you lose so much time there,” Stewart said. “With the corners being so big and so sweeping, having the flexibility to change your entry into the corner really pays off there — like two-tenths (of a second) better. On a track that size, it’s a lot of distance for that short of time.”

— Ted Schultz tschultz@therepublic.com

At a glance

TODAY’S RACE

Pure Michigan 400, 2 p.m. (NBCSN)

Starting position: (qualifying Saturday)

LAST RACE

Finished 30th in the Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race

CHASE FOR THE CUP

Last race: 11 points

Season total: 400 points (27th)

Current position on Chase grid: 11th

Author photo
Ted Schultz is sports editor for The Republic. He can be reached at tschultz@therepublic.com or 812-379-5628.