Tony Stewart said his NASCAR team's winning performance at Chicagoland Speedway last week proves "they don't give up."
"We never have," he said Friday in New Hampshire. "We've got a group of guys that no matter how bad it's been this year and how low I've got with it, they've never given up. They've never quit. It defines our organization as far as what our group of people are capable of and they fight to the end."
Stewart didn't share in that belief during portions of the summer – he said at one point that his team would just be taking up a spot in the Chase if they made it – but he regained his confidence in the final weeks leading into the 10-race playoff.
"You feel like unless you've been doing it and been good at it every week, you never feel like you are in the right spot," he said. "I still think we're taking it a week at a time. I don't know that I look at it any further than that. We've had days where we were really good and the next week totally terrible. It shows that you have to take it a week at a time."
But despite his sudden emergence among the title contenders, Stewart said he is's "not worried about how big of a threat (to win the title) I think I am or anybody else thinks we are."
He's simply focused on New Hampshire, and determined to look at the Chase as pieces of a greater puzzle.
For example: What did his performance in Friday's practice tell him?
"We're 14th," he said. "It tells me we aren't quite quick enough to get to 13th and just good enough to be ahead of 15th."