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November 23, 2017

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Don’t count out Stewart yet

There have been a few prominent media stories this week addressing the performance of the No. 14 team this season. Stewart is currently 15th in points, 12 spots behind where he was at this time last season. “We’re confused,” Stewart said this week. The drivers of the No. 14 and his crew chief, Darian Grubb, may not be sure what is causing the less-than-expected performance, but it’s too early say that Smoke’s season is finished.

At various times during Stewart’s tenure in Cup racing, he came across like a bulldozer suffering from sudden acceleration. And these periods of aggressiveness seem to have come after a challenging event.

Remember when Stewart was kicking a photographer’s camera, using his car as a retaliatory weapon, and exhibiting other behavior that probably gave Joe Gibbs fits? After events like these, Stewart would be called to the NASCAR trailer, criticized by fans, reprimanded by his sponsor Home Depot or placed on probation. And more often than not he would return to win the next race. Adversity made Stewart more determined, more convinced that he had something to prove.

Now, I’m not suggesting that he return to his camera-kicking days. And I certainly don’t think Stewart wants to airlift another anger management team in the infield after every race. The point is that he usually rallies after a tough spot and becomes more focused and determined to win. His current mini-slump could be just the right spark to put the No. 14 team up front again.

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