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Charlotte and 600 miles not the best combination for Tony Stewart

Tony Stewart has never won the Coca-Cola 600, the spring Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Thursday, May. 23, 2013

Tony Stewart is not having his best season on the NASCAR Sprint Cup circuit. Unfortunately for him, Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway might not be the race where he can turn things around.

Stewart, a three-time Cup champion, hasn’t won this season. He doesn’t even have a top-five finish. His best is eighth at Phoenix.

Making matters seem a little tougher for Stewart: He’s never won Charlotte’s spring race, NASCAR’s longest.

“Obviously, the Coke 600 is a huge event,” said Stewart, who qualified 25th Thursday for Sunday’s race. “I’m a big fan of shorter races nowadays, but the 600 is truly a special event, with it being on Memorial Day weekend. There’s just a lot of tradition that surrounds the month of May in Charlotte. So, this is a big, important race for us to win.”

Stewart isn’t entirely without success at Charlotte. He won the track’s 500-mile fall race in 2003. He also won the Sprint All-Star race in 2009.

His best finish in the 600 came in 2001, when he was third. His best finish in recent years was sixth in 2007.

He still feels like 2007 might have been his best chance to win – until his car fell off the pace with tire problems.

“Yeah, that’s definitely the one that sticks out the most in my mind,” he said. “I mean, we had a five-second lead with three laps to go. We lost the right-front tire, but it wasn’t because of a mistake by Goodyear. It was the fact that we had run 100 laps on the right-side tires, so it just physically melted the bead on the right-front.

“So it wasn’t any fault of Goodyear’s. It was just circumstances.”

Stewart is concentrating only on Charlotte this weekend. He has competed in the 600 and the Indianapolis 500 on the same day twice.

He’s the only driver to have top-10 finishes in both races and the only one to complete all 1,100 laps.

“It makes for a very, very long day,” said Stewart. “When you’re done with the 600, after running Indy and the flight and helicopter rides and police escorts and all that during the day, you’re very, very content to lay your head on a pillow. And even when you do that, it still feels like it’s not stopped moving, yet.”

Whatever happens in the 600 on Sunday, Stewart is entering a stretch of the season where he usually begins to excel. He is 21st in the points standings of all the tracks that remain before the Chase for the Cup begins in August, Kentucky is the only place where he hasn’t won.