pes his input on setup pays off in results

Only three races remain in 2015, but Tony Stewart and his crew may have found a formula that will help him into the 2016 season, which will be his last on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit.

An accident in practice for last weekend’s race at Martinsville, Virginia, forced the Columbus native into his backup car and to start at the back of the 43-car field. But Stewart climbed his way to a 10th-place finish.

“We did something in happy hour (final practice) with this second car that, to be honest, it was actually something I had a little input on,” Stewart said in a news release after the race. “I’m not very smart, and it wasn’t because of me, for sure, but it was (crew chief) Chad (Johnston) and I and everybody working together and trying to find a solution that might fix our problem.”

The top-10 finish was only Stewart’s third of the season, but the 300th of his career in 587 Sprint Cup starts. He’ll try for another one Sunday in the AAA Texas 500.

Stewart has won twice at Texas Motor Speedway. He has a pair of poles, six top-five finishes and 13 top-10s. Stewart has completed all but 105 of the laps run in his 26 career starts at Texas for a lap-completion rate of 98.8 percent and has led a total of 801 laps, third-best among active Sprint Cup drivers.

“You have to be comfortable or you’re not going to go fast,” Stewart said. “The more comfortable I am, the faster we go. This track — the grooves have moved around, especially in the last couple of years. We’ve seen the track get wider and it’s made it to where you can move around on the racetrack and where you can run the top side or the bottom side. It’s nice from a driver’s perspective to be able to have that flexibility behind the steering wheel, knowing that if your car’s not driving exactly the way you want it to, you can move around the racetrack and find a spot the car likes better.”