Stewart Fans Shouldn’t Be Worried About Slow Start, Right?


Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The start of the 2015 season is not what Tony Stewart or his fans were looking for. On the heels of 2013 and 2014 where Stewart didn’t complete the full season, many were predicting a bounce-back year for the driver of the No. 14 machine (myself included). Through four races it’s hard to imagine the season being any worse. Stewart’s best finish in 2015 is 30th and that has some people beginning to ask what the issue is.

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Earlier this month I gave my take on the one thing that I felt was holding Stewart back. Other Stewart fans have pointed to the new rules package as being the main culprit for his issues this season. Regardless of the reasoning though, the majority of his fans seem to be finding solace in the fact that Stewart is known for ‘getting off to a slow start.’ As a result of this his fans seem to believe that he is sure to bounce back sooner rather than later since slow starts are somewhat normal in his career.

I hate to be the one to burst anyone’s bubble but that belief is more myth than it is anything else. Below is a quick look at Stewart’s career and what his average finish was each season after the fourth race.

  • 1999 – 21.75
  • 2000 – 14.25
  • 2001 – 19.75
  • 2002 – 13.25
  • 2003 – 9.25
  • 2004 – 9.5
  • 2005 – 12.75
  • 2006 – 18.5
  • 2007 – 15.0
  • 2008 – 13.75
  • 2009 – 12.5
  • 2010 – 12.75
  • 2011 – 10.25
  • 2012 – 13.25
  • 2013 – 22.75
  • 2014 – 22.0
  • 2015 – 36.0

As you can see the notion of Stewart always getting off to a slow start is greatly exaggerated. In 11 of his first 14 seasons in NASCAR his average finishing position after four races was in the top-15. Since 2000 he has averaged a top-20 every season after four races before 2013 when he got off to the worst start of his career to that point. 2014 was slightly better than 2013 and then 2015 has been the worst by far.

It would be fair to say that in recent years Stewart has gotten off to a slow start because that would be true. However, that notion shouldn’t bring any relief to Stewart’s fans because in those recent years he has also missed the chase.

The good news for Stewart is that the new chase format forgives poor starts and inconsistent seasons. Through the first 26 races all Stewart needs to do is find a way to win and he will most likely make the chase. From there he will obviously need to run well to contend for a title but making the chase is half of the battle. Stewart could go out and win the Auto Club 400 this weekend and those earlier four races won’t matter. However, Stewart could also go out and have another poor finish and continue his 2015 trend.

Next: Isn't It Obvious What's Wrong With Tony Stewart?

Ultimately it would be foolish to write any driver off after only four races. That being said, Stewart fans need to understand that the situation has become concerning and that the notion of these historic slow starts simply isn’t true. Stewart still has plenty of time to turn his season around but he needs to begin that sooner rather than later. A few more poor finishes and Stewart might put himself in a point’s hole that is too deep to dig out of which would make winning his only way into the chase. Winning is possible every week but it’s hard to think about given where he has been finishing.

So, should Stewart fans be worried? Yes, on some level they should be worried since Stewart has never started a season anywhere close to this poorly before. Stewart fans should also take solace in the fact that he is still one of the most-talented drivers out there and that it would seem unlikely that he would continue to struggle at this pace all season.

Christopher Olmstead is the Editor of on the FanSided Network. Follow us on Twitter @Beyond_The_Flag and “Like” us on Facebook.