JOLIET, Ill. -- Tony Stewart is a bumbling idiot.
It had to be said, even if it is a bit premature -- and in jest.
But the two-time Sprint Cup champion said on Thursday that five of the 12 Chase drivers didn't have a chance to win the championship, putting himself at the top of the non-factors because of the way he ran in the regular season. He said if he wins the title then "I'll declare I'm a total bumbling idiot."
What Stewart is -- after Monday's victory at Chicagoland Speedway -- is a championship contender.
The only thing that could have made him a "bumbling idiot" was to run out of fuel on the final lap as several title contenders did, as Stewart did in the Chase opener a year ago at New Hampshire when he had the checkered flag in sight.
Instead, Stewart goes to Sunday's race at New Hampshire (2 p.m. ET on ESPN and WatchESPN) with only a seven-point deficit to Kevin Harvick.