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Tony Stewart continues midseason surge: fourth top five in last six starts

There’s nothing like making up for lost time.

That seems to be Tony Stewart’s philosophy of late.

Having missed the first eight races of 2016 after an offseason back injury, the three-time Sprint Cup champion has started to look a lot like the “Smoke” of old.

Even though it was shortened by fog and eventually rain, Monday’s Pennsylvania 400 at Pocono Raceway was Stewart’s second consecutive fifth-place finish (following up on last week at Indianapolis).

Going back to his win at Sonoma in late June, Stewart has four top-five finishes in his last six starts. He also is up to 27th in the Sprint Cup point standings.

Not bad for a guy who’s retiring at season’s end.

During Monday’s one-hour, 16-minute red flag before the victory was awarded to Chris Buescher, Stewart discussed his race up to that point.

And he even proved clairvoyant about what would be his eventual finish.

“Well, I’m pretty happy with it,” Stewart said. “(If racing resumes) I think we can gain a couple of spots, but I’m not sure that we might not go back a couple spots. We might average out at the end.

“If we end up fifth I’m pretty happy with this today.”

So, all’s well that ended well for Stewart -- kinda.

“We were kind of a like a yo-yo today,” Stewart said. “I was pretty happy to see the race end. I hate it for the fans who came back to see us race on Monday, but for just us, we’ll take a fifth-place finish and be happy with it.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski