This kinda explains thing a little........I could be wrong,and I hope I am, but it's going to take a miracle starting as far back as he is.... They start lapping the cars in 4-8 laps.
PUBLISHED 1 hour and 14 minutes ago
Bob Pockrass Sporting News Follow on Twitter Archive Email RSS
BRISTOL, Tenn. — Tony Stewart isn't a happy camper considering the start of his season, but believe it or not, he's been in worse moods in his racing career.
Stewart, a three-time champion, was 17th in the final Sprint Cup Series practice Saturday at Bristol Motor Speedway. That's at least an improvement for Stewart, whose comeback from a broken leg has been thwarted by on-track struggles. His season includes a 16th-place finish at Phoenix and a 33rd-place finish at Las Vegas.
He will start 37th in the Food City 500. Green flag is scheduled for 1:13 p.m. ET Sunday, but race
threatens to delay the race. Stewart hasn't complained about his leg in a few weeks. And according to Greg Zipadelli, the sore leg isn't a problem. Zipadelli is competition director for Stewart-Haas Racing, chosen by Stewart to make sure the organization has cars ready to compete in Cup races. He is Stewart's friend and former crew chief.
Saturday at Bristol, Zippy tied to Stewart's slow start to the change in the aerodynamic rules and Stewart's inability to test with new crew chief Chad Johnston."He hasn't complained about his leg; his attitude, his efforts, his spirit have been great," Zipadelli said Saturday. "We're just not giving him what he's comfortable with. We're dragging (the body of the car on) the race track. It's not little things. It's like way off.Stewart's problem at Las Veags, Zipadelli said, was because of a "human error." Without being specific, Zipadelli said something was installed incorrectly and threw off the entire setup. Stewart "did an amazing job driving that car," Zipadelli said. "I went down in the corner for a while and watched it and most people would have wrecked that thing.
"When we got it home, we found some mechanical, some human error. Shame on us. That stuff can't happen at this level. It certainly shouldn't happen to that caliber of driver. We owe him a lot
more than that." Stewart handled the 14 car's problem as well as could be expected, Zipadelli said.
"He's got all the right in the world to be screaming and calling them everything he wants because we have not done a good job for him this year, as far as this group," Zipadelli said. "But he hasn't. He has been more of a leader and trying to motivate and keep everyone in the game. I think he's hungry."
Zipadelli has more headaches than just Stewart's performance. Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix but struggled at Las Vegas. Kurt Busch is mired in 28th in the standings. Danica Patrick is 33rd and will run her backup car at Bristol after crashing on Friday.At Bristol, SHR had two of the top 10 cars in the final practice. Busch was fifth and Harvick ninth.Casey Mears ran 125.906 mph and led the practice, followed by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Brad Keselowski and Busch. The only incident came when Landon Cassill lost a wheel assembly and hit the wall. He was OK but will go to a backup car.A day earlier, Patrick was the first of four drivers who crashed.
Zipadelli is optimistic about what he has seen from Patrick in her second full-time Cup season. He said her speed has improved."She is more comfortable with this package," Zipadelli said. "It does complement her driving style."I don't know if it is because the cars don't move around as much and that's kind of what she kind of grew up driving. She's made (more) speed at the three places we've been so far."
Stewart-Haas is working in two directions at the moment depending on the preference of the driver, Zipadelli said. It isn't as simple as putting one driver's setup in another one's car, especially with the new rules package. SHR went from two teams to three in 2013 and struggled with that transition. It expanded to four teams for 2014, but Zipadelli doesn't see this as a similar issue.
"Our guys at the shop have done a really, really good job," Zipadelli said. "Our cars are significantly better. All our teams have better cars downforce-wise, making gains. "If we have any bottleneck, it's just getting parts and pieces so we have enough of it. But it's not keeping them from going to the race track, it's keeping us from getting four-five weeks ahead. … Last year was definitely a lot more of a struggle."
The organization has confidence in Johnston, Zipadelli said. Harvick and new crew chief Rodney Childers — both newcomers at SHR — had the benefit of several offseason tests to get in sync, something Stewart and Johnston didn't have. Stewart is on his third crew chief in four years.
"It's a no-win situation unless you win with Tony," Zipadelli said. "Let's face it. If it's not, if your cars are not good enough races or if he's not running up front every week leading laps, well then it's
your fault. I battled it for 10 years. I know exactly how they feel. … (Johnston) is doing a good job. As a group, I feel they are closer as a group. They are working better together, their communication is better."To help their communication, Stewart will do a Goodyear tire test at Sonoma next week and has tests scheduled at Nashville and New Smryna Beach, Florida. "It seems every week [Stewart's crewmen] start a little bit behind in trying to figure out what he wants," Zipadelli said. "I feel like the group we have there will do a really good job once we find
that platform that Tony wants. "They're very detailed, understanding and will be able to tune and be able to bring him the same thing week in and week out once they find it."