2011 Stats: Points Finish 1st, 5 Wins, 9 Top Fives, 19 Top Tens, Average Running Position 13.1, Average Finish 12.0, Laps Led 913, Driver Rating 96.0
Strengths- Tony Stewart is as versatile of a driver as they come. You can use him on all the track types and expect good results.
The Champ is at his best on 1.5 mile tracks, flat tracks, road courses, Martinsville and Richmond.
Weaknesses- I would be wary of picking Tony Stewart at plate tracks, Dover and Bristol.
One possible weakness is the crew chief change. Although the #14 team lacked in performance for the first two-thirds of the season they were the best team when it counted. I don’t see how getting rid of a crew chief who won five of the Chase races is a good move. Grubb will be replaced by Steve Addington who most recently worked with Kurt Busch.
Intermediate Track Grade- A-, After Roush Fenway’s big two (Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth) Tony Stewart was arguably the class of the field. He won three races on this track type and would’ve won a fourth at Las Vegas but he had pit road problems.
Stewart was also consistent on intermediate tracks. He had a 10.0 average finish and completed the fourth most laps on this track type.
There were some ugly moments though. Dover was once one of his best tracks but in 2011 his performances there were down right ugly. In the spring race he finished six laps down and in the fall he finished two laps down. He didn’t have problems, he was really that bad.
Flat Track Grade- A, No driver scored more than Tony Stewart on flat tracks last year. In the seven flat track races he had five top ten finishes and an impressive 7.3 average finish. A testament to how good Stewart is on this track type is his average finish at each of these venues. He has the best average finish at Indianapolis, the fourth best average finish at New Hampshire, the fourth best average finish at Phoenix and the fifth best average finish at Pocono.
Restrictor Plate Track Grade- B+, Last year only Paul Menard scored more than him on the big plate tracks. That is a testament to his consistency and ability to avoid bad finishes. You really can’t say he was that good though because he only had one top ten finish. His lone top ten finish (7th) came at Talladega where he finished in the top ten for the first time since his 2008 win.
Short Track Grade- A-, In the Chase last year Tony Stewart emerged victorious at Martinsville. A win is a win but I believe an asterisk mark might be appropriate for this one. I think Jimmie Johnson took it easy on him (video) and more importantly he wasn’t really that good. One loop data stat that often fly’s under the radar is “Fastest Laps Run In The Race”. In that race Tony Stewart only ran the fastest lap eight times. To put that in perspective David Gilliland had 10 fastest laps. In the spring Martinsville race he had problems and finished 34th.
Bristol has been a rough track for Tony Stewart since it was reconfigured. Since the 2007 revamp he’s only finished in the top ten three times and has a 16.8 average finish.
Richmond is Tony Stewart’s best short track. Last year he finished in the top ten in both races. Stewart has three wins at the Richmond but his last was in the 2002 Pontiac Excitement 400 (kind of puts it in perspective since he last won). His main strength here is his consistency. Among active drivers only Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer have an average finish better than Stewart’s 10.9.
Road Course Track Grade- A, Tony Stewart is the king of road courses but 2011 wasn’t a good year for him. At Infineon he had problems with former Cup driver Brian Vickers (video replay) and at Watkins Glen he made a rare mistake on the last lap (video replay).
There’s no questioning how good Tony Stewart is on the serpentine tracks though. He’s a five time winner at Watkins Glen and a two-time winner at Infineon. Statistically Watkins Glen is his best track on the circuit.
How to use Tony Stewart from a Fantasy NASCAR Perspective in 2012? When it comes to Tony Stewart and fantasy NASCAR the most important advice I can give you is use him when he’s hot.