5 Lessons Learned: Tony Stewart Needs a Change

By Jared Turner

Harvick’s Still Happy

It’s way too early to even pencil anyone in as the favorite to hoist the 2015 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion’s trophy, but Kevin Harvick is certainly off to a terrific start. In four races this season, the 2014 series champ has two wins and two second-place finishes, with the two victories coming the past two weekends. Even more impressive is that Harvick’s string of top two finishes goes back to the final three races of last season, bringing the total to seven races in a row. Only two other drivers in NASCAR history – Richard Petty and David Pearson – have finished either first or second in this many races in succession.

Joe Gibbs Racing’s struggling

How bad was Sunday’s race at PIR for Joe Gibbs Racing? The highest-finishing JGR driver was Carl Edwards in 13th. The next highest was Matt Kenseth in 16th. Then came Kyle Busch sub David Ragan, in 21st, followed by JGR’s Denny Hamlin in 23rd. For an organization used to winning and running near the front, such results are unacceptable. “We fought a lot of things,” said Edwards, whose first four races since joining JGR have produced nary a top-10 finish. “We were a little tight in the middle of the corner and when we would get in dirty air our car seemed to be more affected than other people. We just have to work on that.”

Gordon Can Actually Finish

After starting the season off with wrecks in each of the first three races, Jeff Gordon finally brought a car home in one piece at Phoenix – where he crossed the finish line ninth in the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Gordon, who is in his last full season in NASCAR’s top series, jumped five positions – from 30th to 25 – in the Sprint Cup standings on a day when he avoided trouble and actually ran inside the top five for a good portion of the race. Most importantly, the four-time Sprint Cup Series champ finally put a complete race together after being snake-bitten by all manner of bad luck early in 2015.

Tony Stewart Needs A Change

Could the 2015 season really have gotten off to a worse start for Tony Stewart? After four races, the co-owner of Stewart-Haas Racing and three-time Sprint Cup Series champion has a best finish of 30th and sits a dismal 35th in the standings. Yes, you read those numbers correctly. The bottom line? Literally just about everything that could go wrong for Stewart has in the season’s first month, all fellow SHR driver Kevin Harvick has been the series’ dominant force with two wins and no finish outside the top two. Clearly, a change is needed with Stewart’s No. 14 team, and it might should start with the driver, who hasn’t won since June 2, 2013.

Kurt Is On A Mission

In his first race back after being reinstated by NASCAR following indefinite suspension for alleged domestic assault of his former girlfriend, Kurt Busch sent a loud message out at Phoenix: He’s not just back; he’s ready to make up for lost time. Busch, the 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion, was one of the few drivers who could challenge the dominance of Stewart-Haas Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, and ran near the front most of the afternoon. So much for having to knock any dust off from missing the first four races. Busch seemed as sharp as ever as he begins his bid to make the Chase for the Sprint Cup.