Monday, January 22, 2018
Sports

Stewart stays calm about slow start

FONTANA, Calif. — A few hours after putting his footprints and signature in drying concrete on Fontana's walk of fame, Tony Stewart hopped on his jet with Kyle Larson and flew 400 miles north to Stockton, Calif., where Larson beat him in a dirt-track race.

Just a typical Friday for Stewart — and just another indication he's not worried about Stewart-Haas Racing's slow start heading into today's fifth race of the NASCAR season.

Wrecks, bad tires and unfortunate breaks have combined to keep Stewart 24th in points, near the three-time Sprint Cup champion's teammates, Ryan Newman (23rd) and rookie Danica Patrick (28th). Stewart isn't worried yet, but Smoke would love to figure out the new Gen-6 car in time to celebrate a third win in four years at Fontana in the Auto Club 400.

"Everybody wants an answer that nobody has an answer to right now," said Stewart, who starts eighth today. "Every track that we're going to is a learning deal right now. You're going to go through a lot of races before we all figure out what the car likes and dislikes."

Still, Stewart is the defending champ at Fontana, where he won a rain-shortened race last year.

"It's just early in the year," he said. "If all of us had finished all the races and we're back there because we've been running bad, that would be one thing. We've all had races that we've crashed out of."

Nationwide: Another series race at Fontana, another victory for Kyle Busch and Joe Gibbs Racing. Busch earned JGR's ninth consecutive victory at Fontana in NASCAR's second-tier series, beating Sam Hornish in the Royal Purple 300 for his third win in five races this season. Busch pushed ahead late in a duel with points leader Hornish. "It's really cool," Busch said, adding of JGR, "they're known for having great stuff, but you've still got to be able to wheel it."

Formula One: Three-time defending series champion Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull won pole position at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang. The race was run overnight.

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