Tony Stewart drove his No. 14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet to a fifth place start in qualifying at Michigan International Speedway Friday. His 195.477 mph lap was the fastest among his Stewart-Haas Racing teammates.
In a season that has been rife with disappointment, Stewart is encouraged by the gains his team has made. Even after last week’s 43rd place result at Watkins Glen due to mechanical issues, Stewart remained optimistic.
“For me, it’s big picture,” said Stewart. “The way our season has been, we’ve picked up. Indy we picked up, Pocono we picked up and we picked up here. At the end of the day, the results won’t show it, but I think we’re starting to gain some momentum.”
That momentum continued with his fifth place qualifying effort at Michigan.
“These guys have just done an awesome job,” Stewart stated. “It’s four weeks in a row now that we have qualified in the top five. I’m really proud of that. I’m really proud of the Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops team here.”
The next hurdle is converting those top five starting positions into comparable finishes.
“We just have to figure out how to finish it off for the rest of the weekend like we have,” Stewart continued. To that end, he will use the upcoming practice sessions to evaluate how his car will handle during race conditions.
“I personally want to run around some cars tomorrow,” he said, “and see what we are going to have to do to be good in traffic. That is on my list for tomorrow.”
The three-time Sprint Cup champ won at Michigan in June 2000 and has 12 top fives and 20 top 10s at the track. His driver rating of 94.1 is sixth-best. If Stewart can score a top 10 on Sunday, he will accomplish a milestone of 300 career top 10 Sprint Cup finishes. More important, it will ultimately take him one step closer to Victory Lane and his 49th win.