Racing’s most passionate and knowledgeable fans read RACER and RACER.com.
That’s why the RACER of the Year Awards presented by Mobil 1 mean so much to
the winners – it’s you who decide. Here’s who earned your votes from the 201 1 season.
When Tony Stewart declared, a couple days before Chicagoland Speedway’s Chase opener, that he and his Stewart-Haas
Racing team didn’t really deserve to be in it, it seemed a harsh but
accurate appraisal of a season going pretty much nowhere.
Just two months later, with Stewart celebrating a third
NASCAR Sprint Cup title, that matter-of-factly delivered critique
felt like a motivational catalyst of genius proportions.
Did Stewart intend it to hit home like it did? Well, as he
admits himself, it could have gone either way. But, fact is, he
and his team went on to lay down the most dominant 10-race
streak in the history of the Chase, winning five and finishing
top 10 in three others. A moribund, finger-pointing “regular
season” was transformed into an all-out assault on the history
books by a group of individuals whose self-belief and never-say-die mentality was defined by the guy behind the wheel.
Stewart’s five victories came at a variety of tracks, but the
common thread was refusing to lose, whatever fate and
circumstance threw at you. At Martinsville, he seemed down
and out, but clawed his way to a triumph (see “Man-up
Moment,” below). In Texas, he went
head to head and beat title rival Carl
Edwards at a place where Roush Fenway
Racing pretty much owns Victory Lane.
And, at the Homestead finale, neither
front-end damage that dropped him to
40th, nor a lug-nut snafu, could slow an
RACER OF THE YEAR &
OVAL RACER OF THE YEAR
TONY STEWART SEBASTIAN VETTEL DAN WHELDON THE REST 51 4 10 25 RACER 57 15 20 8 OVAL
unstoppable momentum that culminated
in a brave and successful call by crew chief
Darian Grubb to keep “Smoke” out on
track with rain fast approaching.
The fact that Grubb’s pink slip was
already typed and awaiting his collection –
and Oval Racer of the Year. But, as he
graciously points out, these awards
are recognition for every other member
of Stewart-Haas Racing, too.
Martinsville’s Chase race. Stewart had
averaged a 28th-place finish in his previous
three starts on the Virginia “paper clip” and
was almost lapped in this one. But he
fought back to put an outside pass for the
lead on Jimmie Johnson with three laps to
go. It was the third of five Chase wins for
Stewart, but this one gave his team the
belief and momentum to go all the way.