INDIANAPOLIS – As Kevin Harvick was celebrating his second Big Machine Vodka 400 victory Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway at the famed Yard of Bricks, team owner Tony Stewart stood under the flagstand taking in the moment.
Stewart knows the feeling of winning at the Brickyard as a driver in 2005 and 2007. Sunday’s win was also his second as a team owner, with Ryan Newman earning him his first triumph as a team owner in 2013.
Stewart is able to compare the unique feeling to winning it as a driver and as an owner.
“It is close because where it’s an individual accomplishment as a driver, it’s an accomplishment for your driver and 350 people who bust their ass to make these cars go,” Stewart told SPEED SPORT Sunday night. “Your focus goes from a personal goal to a team goal.”
Stewart has three of his four drivers in the NASCAR playoffs including Harvick, Aric Almirola and Clint Bowyer, who officially clinched his place with a fifth-place finish in Sunday’s final race of NASCAR’s regular season.
The only driver who didn’t make it in from Stewart-Haas Racing was Mexico’s Daniel Suarez, who brushed the wall early in the race and finished 11th.
“It’s hard to do,” Stewart said. “You look at all the good cars and good teams out here, to think you would get 25 percent of the championship field, that’s hard to do. It’s a big deal.”
Stewart was proud of Suarez effort to battle back, however.
“That’s one thing about Daniel; it’s never a lack of effort,” Stewart said. “He got behind today, and it didn’t work out as planned, but you can point to 10 days that we could have done something different and got those 10 points.
“It always comes down to this last race and take care of the points that you need.”
Stewart said his emotions ranged from trying to get Harvick to win the race to getting both Bowyer and Suarez into the NASCAR Playoffs.
“We hoped for good results for all three of them,” Stewart said. “We just didn’t get the result for all four of them. He just came up four points short.
“I told him if he didn’t make this 16, there is still a lot to do for the rest of the season and win some races.”
Stewart expects another great playoff for NASCAR, with lots of pressure and intensity over the next two and a half months.
“It literally comes down to that last restart in the last race at Homestead,” Stewart said.
He won five of 10 races in 2011 to win his third NASCAR Cup Series title during the playoffs. He is the only driver to win Cup titles under three different formats, including the old full-season points system in 2002.
The driver from Columbus, Ind., remains a Hoosier Hero at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
“The cool part is where we lined up today, A.J. Foyt’s brick was right in front of me,” Stewart revealed. “That was pretty cool to me.”