Fontana, Calif. • A few hours after putting his footprints and signature in drying concrete on Fontana's walk of fame, Tony Stewart hopped on his jet with Kyle Larson and flew 400 miles north to Stockton, Calif., where Larson beat him in a dirt-track race.
Just a typical Friday for Stewart and just another indication he's not worried about Stewart-Haas Racing's slow start heading into Sunday's fifth race of the NASCAR season.
Wrecks, bad tires and simply unfortunate breaks have combined to keep Stewart way down in 24th place in the overall points standings next to the three-time Sprint Cup series champion's similarly placed teammates, Ryan Newman (23rd) and rookie Danica Patrick (28th). Stewart isn't exactly worried about it just yet, but it's clear Smoke would love to figure out the new Gen-6 car in time to celebrate a third win in four years at Fontana heading into NASCAR's off week.
"Everybody wants an answer that nobody has an answer to right now," said Stewart, who starts eighth Sunday. "Every track that we're going to is a learning deal right now. You're going to go through a lot of races before we all figure out what the car likes and dislikes."
Stewart-Haas could use a bit of the same good fortune that made Stewart the defending champion on this sunbaked, 2-mile course, where he won a rain-shortened race last year. There's no chance of rain in sunny Southern California this weekend, and Stewart sounds confident his team's forecast will improve soon.
Nationwide Series • Kyle Busch earned Joe Gibbs Racing's ninth consecutive Nationwide Series victory at Fontana on Saturday, comfortably beating Sam Hornish Jr. for his third win in five races this season. Joe Gibbs Racing's Toyotas haven't lost a Nationwide race on their unofficial home track since 2007.
Auto Club 400
At Fontana, Calif.; noon, Ch. 13