Tony Stewart’s Race to Make NASCAR History
Coming within three points of leader Carl Edwards this past week at Texas, Tony Stewart is engaged in the closest points battle in NASCAR history and is poised to accomplish a feat that has been done by only a few in the past.
Tony Stewart is the only team owner-driver in the Chase and if he is able to capture the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship at Homestead in two weeks, Stewart will only be the sixth owner-driver in the 62 year history of NASCAR’s top series to pull off that remarkable achievement. This could be Stewart’s third series title with his first two championships coming in cars owned by Joe Gibbs.
The first to accomplish this was Herb Thomas, who drove his Hudson Hornets to titles in 1951 and 1953. Next came Lee Petty who took all three of his titles, in 1954, 1958 and 1959, in his own equipment. Buck Baker won the 1957 championship in his own Chevrolet as did Rex White in 1960. The most recent owner-driver to capture the biggest prize in racing was Alan Kulwicki, who drove his “Underbird” Ford to the 1992 championship. Many thought that this could never happen again. Kulwicki would be the last of the independent champions, most authorities proclaimed. The days of a privateer taking the title were over. With the manner in which the sport is structured today, that statement made a lot of sense.
But, it seems, Mr. Stewart is ready to prove those experts wrong. With four wins in the eight Chase events run so far, he has a tremendous momentum coming into the final two events and Tony Stewart just might make NASCAR history in 2011.