Tony Stewart 2012 Stats: Points Finish – 9th, 3 Wins, 12 Top Fives, 16 Top Tens, Average Running Position 15.4, Average Finish 13.6 , Laps Led 420, Driver Rating 86.1
Strengths – The three-time Sprint Cup Champion is an elite talent. Look for Smoke to be at his best on intermediate tracks, flat tracks, and road courses. Another strength of his is that when he gets momentum he’s unstoppable.
Weaknesses – Stewart isn’t always a consistent performer at short tracks. Also if he shows signs of struggling on intermediate tracks like last year I encourage you to find another option promptly until he shows signs of improvement.
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Intermediate Track Grade- A-, Tony Stewart won the first two races of the season on this track type and then he struggled at intermediates. In the nine intermediate track races between Auto Club and Chicagoland he only finished in the top ten twice. These tracks make up the core of the schedule and he can’t afford to struggle again this season. In 2012 he scored the 14th most points on this track type, that number ranks him at the bottom of what I would call the “truly competitive tier of drivers”. When you exclude the first two races of the season on this track type Stewart had a 16.3 average finish and a 19.1 average running position.
One particular intermediate track it’s important to talk about for him is Dover. He was Super Man there early in his career but he isn’t anymore. Both him and teammate Ryan Newman have struggled there in recent years. That doesn’t bode well for Danica Patrick as it appears to be an organizational issue. In the last five Dover races Stewart has a 24th place average finish and in each race he’s finished at least two laps down or more.
In 2013 I think Stewart will be better. The old car is gone and along with that he’ll be shedding some of his struggles. Also throughout his career he’s proven to be one of the best drivers on this track type. In 2011 he scored the 3rd most points on this track type and in 2010 he scored the 4th most points.
Flat Track Grade- A-, Tony Stewart was very good at flat tracks last year. At the big flats last year he was 3 for 3 in terms of finishing in the top ten (Pocono = 3rd, 5th & Indy = 10th). He didn’t fare as well at the smaller flat tracks. At New Hampshire he had finishes of 12th and 7th and at Phoenix he finished 22nd and 19th. His 22nd place finish was due to engine issues but if that didn’t occur he likely would’ve finished in the top ten. His 19th place finish was due to him spinning but if that didn’t occur he likely would’ve finished around 16th.
Short Track Grade- B+, Short tracks have been an area of weakness for Tony Stewart and the #14 team. Last season he scored the 8th most points (tied Jeff Gordon) and was a serious contender in a few of them. His best performance of the year on this track type was at Richmond. He had the spring race won but a late caution took away his win (slow pit stop & bad restart). He also looked good in the August Bristol race but him and Matt Kenseth got tangled while battling for the lead. The reason why I say this track type is an area of weakness for him is because he’s looked lost on occasion at these tracks. He’s always good at Richmond but at Martinsville and Bristol he needs to be approached with caution.
Restrictor Plate Track Grade- A-, Tony Stewart is one of the best drafters in the Sprint Cup Series. Last year on this track type he scored the 8th most points on the back of his win in the Daytona July race (4th win in July at Daytona). That was also his only top fifteen for the year on this track type. In the other plate races last year Stewart had problems. His next best performance of the year was the fall Talladega race. He was leading on the final lap but blocked Michael Waltrip and the end result of this was “The Big One”. In 2011 Stewart scored the 2nd most points at plate tracks.
Road Course Track Grade- A, It’s silly to question how good Tony Stewart is on road courses. After the Jeff Gordon era of dominance ended on this track type Tony Stewart picked up the mantle. After Marcos Ambrose he’s the next best default pick right now. Last season at Infineon Stewart finished 2nd to Clint Bowyer. If it wasn’t for the Brian Vickers incident in 2011 he would have six straight top tens at that west coast track. Watkins Glen is where he really shines. Five of his seven road course wins have come on that New York track. He’s stumbled in the last two races there but he wasn’t bad in either race. Last season he finished 19th after he spun while running well. In 2011 he spun on the last lap while running in the top 8. In the nine races prior to the last two Stewart won five races and had a 3rd place average finish.
How to use Tony Stewart from a Fantasy NASCAR Perspective in 2013? I would focus on using Tony Stewart at high speed intermediate tracks, road courses, flat tracks, Richmond and the summer Daytona race.