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Tony Stewart on Kentucky: There’s only one first race, and

Sat Jul 09, 2011 10:26 am

Even though the NASCAR season seems to go on forever, time is getting short. There is only nine races left before the The Chase begins. Sitting 12th in points, Tony Stewart needs a win to help solidify his place in NASCAR's playoffs this fall. There would be no better time to notch that win than this weekend, and NASCAR heads to the Bluegrass State for the inaugural NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway.

Smoke will roll the Office Depot/Mobil 1 “Back-to-School” Chevrolet Impala Saturday night as his looks to grab his first win of the 2011 season. Stewart recently spoke about the process when racing for the first time at a track. "The first thing you do is try to figure out the line around the track. When we tested there in the past, we didn’t have a lot of rubber down because there weren’t a lot of cars running a lot of laps. It was a lot harder to really get a gauge on what the line was around there. That’s what you’ll spend the first part of the day on – on Thursday, the practice day. You’ll just work on the line, figuring out your braking points and where you need to get back in the gas. At the same time, the crew chiefs and the engineers are going to be trying to figure out how to get ride heights where they want them – the standard things they do every weekend. The drivers are going to have to take a little bit of time in learning the racetrack." Stewart said.

As far as expectations go, "I’m excited about going to Kentucky." Smoke said. "I like going to new places where we don’t have a history. Obviously, there are a lot of drivers who’ve run the Nationwide Series there and do know the track and what to look for. It’s kind of fun for a lot of us. None of us have raced there that don’t run the Nationwide Series on a regular basis. Even though at some point over the last seven or eight years we’ve tested there, none of us have raced there. That kind of makes it fun. It’s neat to go in there and not have an idea of what to expect. It always makes it fun the first time."

Everyone always remember who won the first race. That will be no different this Saturday night. Tony also talked about what it would mean to win the inaugural Sprint Cup race at Kentucky. "We’re going to have a lot of our friends and family that are coming down. I know we’re going to have those fans there. We’ve got a lot of followers with the local tracks in that area. That makes it fun being able to race in front of your friends and family and people that we’ve raced against in dirt Late Models and Sprint Cars. The market is really good for us as far as our fan base is concerned. There’s only one first race, and you can only win it once."

Crew Chief Darian Grubb and the folks at Stewart/Haas have opted to roll with Chassis # 14-591 this weekend. You'll remember this car from Las Vegas, where Stewart dominated, leading four times for a race-high 163 laps. He opened up a four-second advantage until a pit road miscue derailed the perfect outing and left him second when the checkered flag dropped. They've had some extensive wind tunnel testing time for #591, so look for Stewart to be near the front at the end of the evening on Saturday.
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