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Jay Busbee

Slamming the door on Stewart-Haas's 2010

Jay Busbee
From The Marbles

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We're almost done with 2010, so as we close out the year, we look back one last time at the big teams to see where they went right, where they went wrong, and what their prospects might be for 2011. We continue with the sophomore jinx.

By the numbers: Three wins, 13 top 5s, 31 top 10s, three poles

The recap: The sophomore slump hit owner Tony Stewart early, as both he and Ryan Newman struggled early in the season. Newman snaked a win at Phoenix, but never really got going well enough to make the Chase. Stewart had his usual warm-weather rebound, and reeled off a run of 11 top 10s over 14 races that culminated in a victory in Atlanta. He also took California, and rolled into the Chase on solid footing. But he was never really a match for the Harvick/Hamlin/Johnson trifecta, and finished the season ranked 7th.

The outlook: Both Stewart and Newman are Chase-caliber drivers. Thing is, so are about 15 other guys. Can an ever-aging Stewart hang with the younger contingent, particularly his ex-teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch? Stewart has proven adept at negotiating the tricky waters of sponsorship, bringing aboard Mobil to replace Old Spice and patching together a quilt of sponsors for Newman, and now it's time for him to turn his attention to figuring out how to master his rivals on-track.

Previously: Hendrick Motorsports, Joe Gibbs Racing