Tony Stewart is getting on a little bit of a roll.
After three finishes outside the top 15 in his first three races of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the Columbus native has notched back-to-back top-fives the past two weeks at Bristol, Tenn., and Fontana, Calif. He’ll look for another beginning at 1 p.m. Sunday at Martinsville, Va.
Stewart’s efforts the past two weeks have allowed him to jump from 32nd in the point standings to 17th.
“I’m very proud of our team to do what we’ve done the last two weeks,” Stewart said in a news release. “A top-five finish is always a good day’s work at Bristol. And then last week at California, even though we weren’t a top-five car all day, (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) made some great calls and put us in position for the top-five. That’s the part that has me the most excited.
“Even though we have work to do, I’m not panicked about it because I know this is the group that can figure it out,” he said. “It’s still early in the year, and there’s a lot of racing to do.”
Stewart has three Sprint Cup victories at Martinsville, the most recent coming in 2011. He has won three poles at the track.
“Even on the bad days, it can be fun,” Stewart said. “And when you have a good day, it’s great. The grandfather clock you get for winning is one of the cooler trophies in our sport. Normally, 20-year-old kids don’t get too excited about grandfather clocks, but you realize it’s more than that at Martinsville. There’s a lot of pride and lot of history with this sport at Martinsville.”
Stewart said there’s usually no lack of excitement on the .526-mile paperclip-shaped oval at Martinsville.
“I don’t care how flawlessly your day goes, you’re going to bump into somebody at some point, even on a perfect day,” Stewart said. “You put 43 cars on this half-mile track, and it’s always going to be exciting. You will never have a race there where you don’t have some sort of drama during the day. I think every driver will say they will have some drama at some point. When you have 43 drivers with 43 dramatic moments, that’s a lot of action going on.
“I don’t care how old it gets or how far down the road it gets, it’s not going to be a track that I never see leaving the schedule,” he said. “It’s got too much history, too much personality, and that’s what you see a lack of in some of these 2-mile and 1.5-mile tracks. At those places, you’re going to get strung out. You’re going to get away from people. But the fans really like to see us on top of each other. That’s what ensures the longevity of Martinsville — the action they’re going to see.”