The definition of confidence: belief in oneself and one’s powers or abilities – One wouldn’t think Tony Stewart had this ‘ability’ before we entered the Chase, as even he was hesitant about earning a spot in the ‘treasured 12′, but here he is, as confident as ever.
Stewart has a right to be confident, after winning four of the nine races in this year’s Chase, which has set him up to be in a prime spot to win the 2011 version of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
What has impressed me was the lack of nervousness from Stewart, even he admitted that during the championship contenders press conference Thursday afternoon.
“It’s been odd,” said Stewart.
“The only part this week that’s concerned me and that I’ve been worried about is the fact that I haven’t been nervous about it. In 2002, 2005, we had big leads, but still you were nervous about it because you knew it could get away. I guess the fact we didn’t think we would even be in the Chase to begin with, it’s taken a lot of that pressure off.”
Stewart only trails Carl Edwards by three points as we head into the final race of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season.
“We’re not trying to overcome a big deficit. We’re right there right behind him. For us, like I said, we can finish 43rd this weekend and not be any worse off than we are right now so we don’t have anything to lose. We can throw everything we got at it. If we make a mistake doing it, it doesn’t cost anything. There’s no penalty for us screwing up.”
Maybe that’s the key to winning. Not making a big mistake, or even a mistake for that matter. Simple, isn’t it? Wrong.
Stewart and Edwards both know this race is for all the marbles, as Edwards might have the upper hand Sunday, Stewart isn’t quite done yet.
“We have everything to gain, nothing to lose. Like I said, it’s a dangerous combination to put us in that kind of mode because we’ve been hot lately, we’ve been running good, we’re feeling good, the team is feeling good about everything. You couldn’t ask for a better scenario.”
The key for Stewart to win the championship: Either win or finish ahead of Edwards. That’s it. Stewart doesn’t have to lead every lap, he only has to perform on the track better than Edwards.
This has set up the perfect scenario. Two of NASCAR’s best racing to beat each other for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship. Has NASCAR ‘perfected’ the Chase points system?
“The points system is good,” said Stewart, even though he has won four races to Edwards’ one race and still trails him in the points.
“It’s easy to look at that and say that it’s not good because of that fact. But what you got to understand is that, unlike other sports where it’s two teams against each other, it’s 43 teams, it’s a 10-race Chase. You accumulate points for 10 races.
“The fact we’ve won four races doesn’t mean we should be ahead of Carl. We did not do our job in some of the other races. That got us behind. Because of the new system, having the bonus points for winning, we were able to catch up and gain those points back.”
Needless to say, NASCAR has given us something to look forward to heading into Homestead-Miami this weekend.
Even though I think Edwards will win come Sunday (also win the Chase), I’m not ruling Stewart out, simply because of Stewart’s confidence. Unlike most cases, I don’t anticipate this ruining the chances of the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet.