Sunday was a shocker to all when Tony Stewart seemingly came out of nowhere to take home the victory at Dover International Speedway. This season has been a bit of a slump thus far for Stewart-Haas Racing but after a good showing at the Coca-Cola 600 and then a win at Dover, could their season finally be looking up?
Stewart may have slayed the monster that is Dover but is this the start of the Stewart we all know and love? Stewart was off to one of the worst starts of his career, only logging two top-10s in the first 12 races. Stewart is usually at his best once the hot summer months roll around so seeing him win at Dover was right up his alley.
Looking at the beginning of 2013, many have thought that Stewart would miss the Chase this season, but with his win, he is eligible for a wild card spot if he does not make it into the top-10 by Chicago. His average finish this season is 20th and the first 10 races saw him sitting below 20th in points. He is currently sitting 16th in points with one win, holding on to the second wild card spot. I wouldn’t count Stewart out of the Chase just yet. He is just starting to hit his stride in the season and could easily make it into the top-10 in points before the Chase begins.
Stewart’s teammate Ryan Newman has seemed to be fairing the best this season at Stewart-Haas Racing. With six top-10 finishes, he leads the SHR Trio with the highest finishing average. Newman also leads the trio in DNF’s as well. His up-and-down season may not be the most consistent but it kept him in the top-20 in points all season. After the wreck at Dover left him with a 36th place finish, Newman dropped to 20th in the standings but he won’t be there for long.
Newman is said to be leaving Stewart-Haas Racing at the end of the season although where he will be going is still up in the air. Having a good final season in the 39 will be key in him landing a great ride for 2014.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s third driver may be one of the most popular in the circuit but what people have to remember, she is also a Rookie in the Sprint Cup Series. Since taking the world by storm in the season opening Daytona 500, Danica Patrick has been less than stellar, but she hasn’t been awful either. She finished an impressive 12th in her first appearance at Martinsville Speedway that garnished the attention of some of the best drivers in the field. Other than her 12th place and 8th place finish at Daytona, Patrick has finished outside the top-20 every time.
With an average start of 26th, Patrick hasn’t been too far from her boss Stewart. In fact, she has been him in a few races already this season. As a Rookie Driver, and looking at the performance of her two teammates, Patrick has done well to kick off her first full Sprint Cup Season. As the series heads back to some of these tracks for a second time, look for Patrick to improve from her first time there. There are also two more plate track races and a few road courses coming up and they will play well into Patrick’s skill set.
Looking at Stewart-Haas Racing as an organization so far this season, they have definitely had their struggles and hard races but they seem to be tuning over a new leaf. Don’t count Stewart-Haas Racing out just yet, their three drivers are just warming up.