Chad Johnston deserves credit for Duck Commander 500 pole, according to his driver, Tony Stewart
By Rick Minter
Tony Stewart won the pole for the Duck Commander 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, the 15th of his Sprint Cup career, and his first since the fall of 2012 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Stewart, who is better known for winning races — 48 in Cup alone — than poles, said his crew chief, Chad Johnston, deserved much of the credit for his success at Texas in the three-round “knockout” qualifying session. Stewart was 16th-fastest after the first round, second-fastest after the second round and won the pole in the final round.
“The good thing is Chad Johnston made a really big change there to try and make it better,” Stewart said. “Like he said, ‘I was either going to make you quick, or I was going to make you 12th.’
“I’m glad he made the change. He’s got a lot of confidence and I really like that.”
Stewart also said his pole is another sign of progress for Stewart-Haas Racing, which expanded from three to four teams since last year. Already this season, the team’s two newest drivers — Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch — have race victories, and Harvick set a new track record in the first round of qualifying at Texas.
“The good thing is, it’s not just one team,” Stewart said. “The whole organization is having really good starts as far as qualifying is concerned.
“I think the atmosphere at our shop is really good right now. It has been ever since the end of the season last year. Just a lot of new faces, and with that has come a new excitement around our shop and it seems to be transferring to what we are seeing on the race track as well.”