If Tony Stewart is going to continue his run toward a fourth NASCAR Sprint Cup championship, he’ll need a big finish today at Dover (Delaware) International Speedway.

The Columbus native sits 15th on the Chase grid going into the last of the first three Chase events. Following today’s Citizen Soldier 400, the Chase field will be cut from 16 to 12 drivers.

“What we have seen the last couple of years is a very good example of how chaotic and hectic each phase of the playoffs are,” Stewart said in a news release. “There is so much emphasis on winning that guys are going way above what they normally do just to ensure they go to the next round. There’s no lack of intensity there. It seems like the further into the Chase you get, that energy and intensity ramp up.”

In 34 career Sprint Cup starts at Dover, Stewart owns three wins, 11 top-five finishes and 17 top-10s and has led a total of 1,075 laps.

But Stewart’s recent history at Dover hasn’t been as successful. He hasn’t finished in the top 10 there since the spring 2013 race and took 34th in this year’s May race at Dover.

“Dover’s been a good track to us in the past but hasn’t been lately,” Stewart said. “Hopefully, this weekend will be different.”

Stewart said “The Monster Mile,” which Dover is nicknamed, is the most appropriately named track on the NASCAR circuit.

“You win there and you feel like you’ve conquered a monster,” Stewart said. “That racetrack can be your best friend, or the track itself can be your worst enemy. When it’s going well and your car is driving well, it’s a blast. If your car isn’t right, even off a little bit, it’s a miserably long day there. That’s why it’s gratifying. That’s why, when you get that big trophy with that monster and they set your diecast car in his hand, you know you did something that week.”

At a glance


Citizen Soldier 400, 2 p.m. (NBCSN)

Starting position: (qualifying Friday)


Finished 23rd in Bad Boy Off Road 300


Last race: 18 points

Chase total: 2,046

Current position on Chase grid: 15th

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