Rare, if ever, has Tony Stewart considered a fourth-place finish a win. But after finishing fourth in the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race Sunday at Martinsville (Va.) Speedway, Stewart said, “Fourth never felt so good.” The effort equaled his season-best finish of fourth earned at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway in March.
For a driver with three championships and 48 career Sprint Cup victories, this seems abnormal. But the last two seasons have been far from normal for Stewart, where consistency has been hard to find and his last victory came 57 races ago at Dover (Del.) International Speedway. A new car with a new rules package, along with a new crew chief and new teammates, have injected incessant change into Stewart’s routine since he won the 2011 Sprint Cup title.