Tony Stewart nearing 100 percent, says 3 of 4 SHR cars should make Chase

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“Welcome to Daytona.”

That was Tony Stewart’s response when Holly Cain of NASCAR.com asked how his stamina was, and then took a dramatic pause.

Stewart’s trademark snark with the media is already in midseason form, even though his health isn’t, following his sprint car accident last August that took him out of the seat for the remainder of the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.

Although Stewart isn’t at 100 percent yet – he’s not testing during NASCAR Preseason Thunder this week, his place taken by Mark Martin – he remains “a tick ahead of schedule” with plans to resume in his No. 14 Stewart Haas Racing Chevrolet the day before the Sprint Unlimited that kicks off Daytona Speedweeks in February.

“The hardest part right now is just not knowing where I’m supposed to be,” Stewart said. “I kind of base everything on a week-to-week deal, and go from there. It’s been kind of a challenge. The physical part is obvious. Getting it all healed up. If something hurts, I have to ask why is it hurting.”

Stewart only just got back to Charlotte a couple days ago, after spending extended time at home in Indiana. Adjusting to the time off, various visitors coming in and telling stories, and reflecting on what he has accomplished in a race car were all new parts of the recovery process.

As far as physical activity, Stewart has driven a street car for four months and had a seat fit at the SHR shops.

Stewart seems optimistic that new recruits Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch can win and make the Chase, and says Danica Patrick needs to continue to improve in her second season.

“I think every week we have three guys that can go out and win a race … on the fourth driver, I think Danica has the potential,” Stewart said. “I’ll be disappointed if all three of us don’t make the Chase. I’m not discounting, but it’s still a work in progress. For sure we have three cars that can win races and make the Chase right now.”

He also praised competition director Greg Zipadelli’s day-to-day management over the winter, with the team expanding to four cars.

“Why do you think I went home?” he joked. “It was a thrash at first to figure out how we’d do that. I think everyone got a plan together, and is sticking to the pan. The atmosphere at the shop, I’ve not seen before. It’s a high it’s never been at before. I’m really happy with where we are at. Best situation.”

Also of note, Stewart praised Mark Martin’s input – “he brings an agenda and gets it done” – and Stewart will race a sprint car again this year, but a schedule has not been determined yet.

“The Cup car is the priority,” Stewart said.

X44 Racing win 2022 Extreme E championship as Abt Cupra score first race victory

2022 Extreme E Uruguay
Extreme E
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Abt Cupra Racing’s Nasser Al-Attiyah and Klara Andersson scored their first win in the Extreme E Energy X Prix in the 2022 finale in Uruguay as Lewis Hamilton’s X44 Vida Carbon Racing drivers Sebastien Loeb and Cristina Gutierrez survived a chaotic finale to edge the 2021 champion Rosberg X Prix team of Johan Kristoffersson and Mikhaela Ahlin-Kottulinsky, by two points.

“There are so many emotions,” Andersson said in Extreme E’s coverage. “I’ve been waiting for this for so long. In my second race, first full weekend to be at the top of the podium: it’s big.”

Andersson was behind the wheel at the finish.

Rosberg Racing entered the event with a 17-point advantage over X44, but the standings were close enough that four teams remained in contention in Round 5.

“It’s a crucial weekend for us,” Loeb said in Extreme E’s coverage prior to the race. “We are not in the best position to win the championship, but the only thing we can do is try to win the race and score as many points as possible.”

The top two title contenders each crashed in qualification and were relegated to the Crazy Race, Extreme E’s version of the Last Chance Qualifier (LCQ). For the moment, they had the steepest hill to climb, but then the other two championship contending teams, Chip Ganassi Racing and Acciona Sainz Racing failed to advance from their heats.

Only one team advances from the Crazy Race, so the X44 drivers were in a must-win situation to simply keep hope alive.

More: Extreme E 2023 schedule

Ahlin-Kottulinsky and Gutierrez ran wheel to wheel into the first turn at the start of the LCQ.

The Rosberg racer experienced crash damage in that turn that damaged her front steering, but managed to limp back to the pits at the end of her two-lap stint. The team attempted to fix the steering, but incurred a penalty for having too many mechanics in the pit area.

Meanwhile, Gutierrez took the early lead, but knew she would need to sit through a five-second penalty for an incident earlier in the weekend. The female half of the gender equal pair erased the penalty by entering the Switch Zone with a five-second lead before turning the car over to Loeb.

That was all the nine-time World Rally Championship titlist needed to give him the advantage needed to win the Crazy Race.

But the championship was not over yet. X44 Racing needed to finish third or better in the five-car finale to earn enough points for the title and after advancing from the LCQ, they were forced to take the worst grid position.

A chaotic start to the Finale saw Loeb run as high the lead and low as fourth after getting pushed off course during his first lap. And that is how he entered to Switch Zone.

On her first lap, Gutierrez slammed into Molly Taylor. With one lap remaining, X44 and Gutierrez were still in fourth and the title hope was quickly evaporating, but it was announced halfway through the lap that the third-running Andretti United team would suffer a penalty for a Switch Zone infraction. The seven-second deduction for Timmy Hansen braking too late in the zone made the difference in the title.

Coming off a disappointing Copper X Prix when Tanner Foust and Emma Gilmour crossed under the checkers first, but were relegated to fifth by penalty, the McLaren pair scored their first podium of the season in second.