Tony Stewart had plenty of success in his first six races at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway. The Columbus native scored a pole and three top-five finishes, including a victory in the 2001 Sharpie 500. But since then, Stewart’s best finish there was a runner-up in the 2010 Food City 500. “It’s a track where we’ve struggled,” Stewart said in a news release. “We’ve led a lot of laps there but we just don’t have the wins to show for it. It’s a track I definitely like. Everybody goes, ‘How can you like it when you’ve not had any success there for a while?’ To me, that’s just motivation. It gives us the ambition to be successful. We do have the new car there, and that’s a question mark that’s the same for everyone. Hopefully, we’re the ones able to take advantage of it.”
Stewart said it’s hard to have a good day at Bristol.
“Bristol is one of those places where you’ve got to have everything kind of go your way,” Stewart said. “If you have one hiccup, it’s hard to recover from it. We’ve only won one race there, and we’ve kind of been all over the board. It’s been feast or famine for us. It’s like if you have one problem in the first half of the race, it’s hard to recover from it. It makes for a very long day. We’ve had more long days than good days.
“There are so many variables that can go wrong at Bristol versus other tracks,” he said. “If you have that one bad incident that gets you in the back, it’s hard to recover from that. There are guys who have done it and do a good job at it, but you have to have a great racecar to be able to recover from something bad, especially if you get laps down. It’s like going from the bottom of the mountain and climbing and climbing and not getting anywhere. You fight and fight and fight, and at the end of the day, you’re right where you were when you had your problem.”
The .533-mile oval at Bristol will be the first short track of this NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
“I think the one thing Bristol does is reset all of the grudges from the short tracks,” Stewart said. “I think guys forget about someone who may have given them fits last year at Bristol or Martinsville. I think everyone starts at square one. It’s nice to start with our first short track at Bristol. It’s something we all look forward to because it’s a one-of-a-kind racetrack.
“One of my favorite trophies is my Bristol trophy from the win in 2001,” he said. “I keep asking myself why I only have one of them. It’s just a hard race to win. When guys win there, they don’t just stand on the car and go, ‘Whoo.” They usually scream when they get out of the car because it’s such a hard place to win.”