Tony Stewart still has a mathematical chance of defending his Chase title, but for all practical purposes he’s out of the running.
That won’t stop the Columbus native from trying to win the final three races on this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup schedule, beginning with a 3 p.m. Sunday race at Texas Motor Speedway.
Stewart sits in 10th place in the point standings, 71 behind new leader Jimmie Johnson. Brad Keselowski, who has led for most of the 10-race Chase, is two behind Johnson.
But despite falling three spots after a 27th-place finish at Martinsville, Va., Stewart is only 27 points behind fifth-place Denny Hamlin.
“We still have three races we can try to win here,” Stewart said in a news release. “That’s what I try to do every week is win, so that’s not going to change whether we have a reality of winning the championship or not. It’s still about going out and doing the best you can every race. All you can do is keep your fingers crossed that things go your way, and when the season is over, we’ll see where we’re at.”
Stewart has several career wins at Texas, including two in his 14-year NASCAR career. He won there in 2006 and again last year, when he cut Carl Edwards’ lead from eight points to three before overtaking him in the final two weeks. Overall, Stewart has a pole, two wins, five top-fives and 11 top-10s in 21 career Sprint Cup starts at Texas.
Stewart also won two of his three IndyCar Series races and an IROC race in 2006 at Texas.
“I’ve always liked Texas,” Stewart said. “I’ve been there clear back in my Indy car days in ’96. The fans in Texas and the people that come to Texas Motor Speedway are really appreciative of the drivers and the teams. They’re just really passionate about their racing. They have a great promoter with Eddie Gossage out there.
“It’s just a fun track, it’s a fun weekend, and it’s a place where we run really, really run fast,” he said. “It’s a fast track. That makes it one on the schedule that you look forward to because you know you’re going to get to let your legs stretch out, so to speak, and run some quick lap times.”