When you're on a roll, it often pays to double up, and that's what Sprint Cup points leader Tony Stewart will try to do in Sunday's Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway, site of his first points win as an owner-driver for Stewart-Haas Racing.
Stretching his fuel mileage to the limit, Stewart won the June 7 Pocono 500 at the 2.5-mile Tricky Triangle to secure his first victory since leaving Joe Gibbs Racing for his own team to start the 2009 season.
Propelled by that win, Stewart now holds a 192-point lead in the Cup standings over three-time defending series champion Jimmie Johnson, last Sunday's winner at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
"You always think you can do better," Stewart said, and that statement should serve as a shot across the bow of competitors hoping to find a weakness in his efforts. "I can do better behind the steering wheel. There are always things and variables that you think you can make better, and that's what you strive for every week. I've been happy with our performance."
He should be. Over the last eight races, Stewart has won twice, finished second twice and placed outside the top five only once (seventh at Michigan). Circumstances hardly could be better for the new team, which receives engines, chassis and technical support from Hendrick Motorsports.
"Historically, we've always been better the last half of the season, and the second third and last third of the season in particular," Stewart said. "This is the best start we've ever had to a season in the Cup Series.
"I don't know what's different about it. I don't know what's changed. I just know that I'm happy with the performance up to this point, and we just hope that what we've done up to this point we can continue to do during the last ten-week stretch, so that we have a shot at winning the championship."
by Reid Spencer and Roger Kuznia