NASCAR & Auto Racing

Stewart still searching for first win, of 2008 and at Talladega

TALLADEGA, Alabama - Tony Stewart has a pair of winless streaks he wants to end on Sunday.

The two-time NASCAR champion would love a win at any track this season and finish the year with at least one victory in his final seven races for Joe Gibbs Racing. But Talladega Superspeedway is a special track for Stewart and one of only four active ones on the schedule where he has yet to win a Sprint Cup race.

Not that he hasn't come close.

Stewart has finished second at Talladega an agonizing six times - including three straight in 2005 and 2006 - in 19 starts and has tried not to think about all his close calls entering Sunday's Energy 500. He's in 11th place in the Chase for the championship standings and is all but out of hope to win a third title for JGR.

Stewart said he was focused for Sunday and not looking back at his past mistakes at Talladega.

"You do at the time when it's over," Stewart said. "You go to the next day and worry about the weekend coming up and not look back."

Stewart starts his No. 20 Toyota in the 35th spot, way in the back of the field on NASCAR's biggest track. He got tangled up in a wreck in Friday's practice triggered by Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s blown tire. Stewart crashed into Kasey Kahne, slid down the track and into the grass. Crew chief Greg Zipadelli decided to repair the primary car instead of moving to a backup, like Earnhardt did.

Stewart said his team worked on the car until 8 p.m. on Friday to get it ready for Saturday's qualifying.

"They said it wasn't anything mechanical, it was all cosmetic," Stewart said. "We've got a great body shop and we've got a lot of great guys that are more than capable of getting this thing where it needs to be."

A win would allow Stewart to check off one more track where he's won a race before he leaves at the end of the year to own a race team. Stewart also hasn't won at Darlington Raceway; Fontana, California; and Las Vegas.

Stewart did win the Nationwide Series race here in April.