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TONY Stewart has seen a steady progression over his past five races at Las Vegas that culminated in a victory last March.
From 43rd in 2008 to 26th to seventh to second to first, the Columbus native finally made it to Victory Lane last season.
He’ll try to do it again in Sunday’s 3 p.m. race.
“I was so glad to finally win one at Las Vegas,” Stewart said in a news release. “We were so close in 2011 and had a dominant car. That’s a race we should’ve won. Winning in this series is hard enough as it is, and when you have a race where you’re able to do pretty much anything you want but not close the deal, that’s hard. So last year’s race absolutely felt great.
“I don’t think we necessarily had the dominant car, but we had the car that took off the best on the restarts, and we had quite a few there at the end,” he said. “I think we were hands down the strongest car on restarts of getting to Turn 1 from the restart point, and all the technology Mobil 1 brings to the table certainly helped us with that.”
At Vegas, “Smoke” has six top-five finishes in his 14 years
on the Sprint Cup circuit.
“There’s really no key to it,” Stewart said. “It’s just like anywhere else you go. You just have to have a well-balanced car. It seems like track position is really, really key there, but as long as you can get your car driving well and stay ahead of it, it seems like as the day changes, or the longer the day goes, the more the track changes and the more you have to stay up with it.
“You just can’t have any mistakes there because you cannot afford to lose the track position, and you have to be able to stay up with the changing track conditions as the day goes on.”
Stewart is coming off an eighth-place finish in Sunday’s race at Phoenix. He is 23rd in the points standings heading into the Kobalt Tools 400.
“It’s no different at Las Vegas than anywhere else,” Stewart said. “You have to get the car to rotate through the corner but still stay tight enough on entry and exit. There’s no unique challenges there.
“The track is really smooth, and that lets you work on the attitude of your car, and I think that’s a luxury that we have there that we don’t necessarily always get everywhere else because every track has its unique set of bumps. Vegas has bumps, too, but for the most part it’s so smooth that you can really fine-tune the attitude of the car.”
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