Owner: Joe Gibbs • Team: Joe Gibbs Racing • Crew Chief: Greg Zipadelli
Robert Laberge/Getty Images
Final Points Standing
After First 26 Races
Lead Lap Finishes
Below is the ranking of the team on each type of
track along with the driver's best finish.
3rd, Las Vegas
1st, Watkins Glen
2005 Spin Tony Stewart is coming off a season that almost any other team would call a success. Of course, when you’re a past champion and arguably the most versatile driver in the world, settling for two victories and a sixth-place finish in the season’s standings doesn’t quite cut it.
It seemed to be a down year for Joe Gibbs Racing in general, as the Bobby Labonte side of the shop got skunked and the Home Depot team failed to find the consistency necessary to seriously challenge for a championship.
Stewart’s performance and strategy are inching him closer to that first plate win. His unofficial teammate, Dale Jr., is his drafting buddy and best asset when the series hits the plate tracks. One should not focus on the plate races alone. There were four teams that were able to get a top 5 finish at all five types of tracks, and the Home Depot team is in that small group.
We see Stewart running strong enough to gain entry into the Chase and winning his usual three or four races. However, this team was not able to string together a sustainable winning streak and made little, if any, noise in the final 10 races. Expect roughly the same this season.
Stewart’s season was full of highs and lows. He won two races, led 889 laps, finished sixth in the season standings and was one of only four drivers to be in the top 10 in points for all 36 races of the 2004 season.
On the downside, Stewart could not stay away from confrontation and controversy. While the Chicago incident with Kasey Kahne was just one of those racing deals, Stewart was guilty due to past transgressions. He blew it off, but the pit crews engaged in a battle royal that earned a couple of them some days off. The incident with Brian Vickers at Sonoma was inexcusable, but Stewart got off easy when NASCAR hit him with the tried and true fine, probation and points docking.
Stewart’s season had several near misses, including his strong second-place finish to Junior in the Daytona 500. His car was reliable and completed 97 percent of all possible laps for the season.
• The Good: What else can you say? The guy finished and won the race at Watkins Glen under the worst of circumstances. A driver who is that sick and takes one for the team is a champ in our book.
• The Bad: Temper problems and arrogance still plague the 2002 Champion; he walked out of the drivers meeting in Michigan. Get with the program, Tony — you are hurting your team.
• The Ugly: After the race at Sonoma, Stewart took exception with Brian Vickers, leaned in his car and delivered a punch. We hope the anger management counselor offers a money-back guarantee.