Ride: No. 14 Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet
Crew chief: Chad Johnston
Points finish: 25th
Stats: 33 starts, zero wins, three top 5s, seven top 10s, one pole, 125 laps led, four DNFs, 16.5 average start, 20.0 average finish
Best finish: fourth, twice (Bristol, March; Martinsville, October)
High Point: After the accident at Canandaigua Speedway that claimed Kevin Ward, Jr.’s life, fans cheered Tony Stewart’s return to the track, and if there were any boos, those people couldn’t be heard. That said, following a fourth-place finish at Martinsville, it was one of the first times you could see Stewart smiling that big smile that meant things were alright. It was a race where he led 18 laps and could have easily taken the victory too.
Low Point: The 2014 season marked the first time since joining the series that Stewart did not visit Victory Lane. He came close, especially late in the season, but the cards didn’t fall right for the driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet. In what has been the worst season of his career, Stewart failed to finish on the lead lap in an astonishing 13 races, and of those, four were DNFs. It’s not exactly the type of performance you expect from a three-time champion.
Summary: In a season where the No. 14 team was out to lunch for most race setups, it was a dismal season at best. Without a single trip to Victory Lane and fewer top 5s and top 10s than any season in his career, including his rookie season, Stewart would probably like to just forget the 2014 season existed. That said, expanding to a four-car team probably didn’t help. Righting the ship begins with the race setups and being in position to fine tune the cars, rather than figure out where the speed is each week.
2014 Outlook: After back-to-back seasons with multiple races missed, Stewart will be back in the No. 14 Chevrolet planning to complete the entire schedule. Barring any major problems, he’ll run alongside teammates Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick and Danica Patrick. I’d like to say he’ll be back in Victory Lane again, but the entire No. 14 team was out to lunch most of the season. Until that improves, winning is the least of Stewart’s concerns.