Very few people know what it's like to celebrate in victory lane with NASCAR Sprint Cup driver Tony Stewart, but for Manchester native Troy Welty, it's becoming a habit. And that's just fine with him.

Welty, who works on the No. 14 team as the "underneath guy" and also as the eighth man on the pit crew, was a winner again Sunday when Stewart snagged his first points win as driver/owner of Stewart-Haas Racing at Pocono Raceway.

It was an up-and-down weekend for the team, with Stewart having to start from the rear thanks to a practice crash after Stewart was awarded the pole position because qualifying was rained out.

The win came after a gamble on fuel mileage paid off, and Welty said although he knew the team was capable of winning, he didn't see it coming.

"We knew we were pretty close on fuel, but you never know," Welty said, laughing. "Tony was definitely trying to save fuel and (crew chief) Darian (Grubb) was crunching the numbers to make sure we could get close. But I really had no idea because I'm not on the pit box. So when he said, 'We're close,' I didn't know how close."

Gambling is nothing new to Welty, who took a chance late last year when he left Richard Childress Racing to join Stewart-Haas.

"Not that I had any doubts that we would win, but I took a gamble by switching teams," Welty said. "I had a good deal at RCR and enjoyed working there, but just the chance to work with Tony, and me knowing him like I know him, just having the chance to be on a dominant team like I'm on, you still have your doubts.


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"I knew we would have good cars, good motors, good people, but it was just a matter of when you're going to win. I think we're way ahead of schedule from what everybody expected looking in from the outside."
The fact that the first points win for the team came in Welty's native Pennsylvania was nice, but not a big deal to him.

"I consider Dover more my home track because I've gone to races there as a fan prior to becoming a team member," Welty said. "I'd never been to Pocono until I started Cup racing. But I love it now!"

Welty said Stewart is pretty happy these days, too.

"I do notice little
things about him, like that he's more upbeat, more chipper, excited to be around," he said.

"When we're doing stuff away from the track, I try not to talk to him too much about the Cup side because everybody wants to talk to him about that. So I talk about different things, whether it's poker or dirt racing, anything besides Cup racing.

"Tony's been good to me. He's just an all-around good person for me to be around."

Stewart is supporting the York County Racing Club in its efforts to raise money for a new truck, offering chances for a meet-and-greet with Stewart, two pre-race garage passes and two grandstand seats to the Sept. 27 race at Dover International Speedway.

A separate drawing for a Simpson helmet autographed by Stewart is also offered in support of the local club. Details can be found online at www.ycrc.org.

Ellen Siska writes about NASCAR for The York Dis patch. She can be reached at esiska@yorkdis patch.com.